At a fundamental level, smoke from wildland fire is of scientific concern because of its potential adverse effects on human health and social well-being. Although many impacts (e.g., evacuations, property loss) occur primarily in proximity to the actual fire, smoke can end up having a significant social impact far from the source. This dynamic, combined with lengthening fire seasons, suggests that understanding how wildland fire smoke affects diverse social values will be increasingly critical. This chapter reviews the existing scientific knowledge related to wildland fire smoke with respect to four topic areas: human health, economics, social acceptability, and risk communication. The broadest existing knowledge base, regarding the health effects attributed to wildland fire smoke exposure, stems from decades of research on the health effects of exposures to ambient fine particulate matter (PM2.5). Despite the potential consequences, scientific knowledge about chronic health effects, economic impacts, and effectiveness of protective actions in response to wildfire smoke risk communication is fairly limited. The chapter concludes with identification of (1) key areas where the need for more empirical information is most critical, and (2) challenges that inhibit an improved scientific understanding.
McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Rappold, Ana G.; Hano, Mary Clare; Navarro, Kathleen M.; Phillips, Tanya F.; Prestemon, Jeffrey P.; Vaidyanathan, Ambarish; Abt, Karen L.; Reid, Colleen E.; Sacks, Jason D. 2022. Social Considerations: Health, Economics, and Risk Communication. In: Peterson, David L.; McCaffrey, Sarah M.; Patel-Weynand, Toral, eds. 2022. Wildland Fire Smoke in the United States: A Scientific Assessment. Cham, Switzerland: Springer Nature Switzerland AG. 199-237. Chapter 7. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-3-030-87045-4_7.