Experts: Forest fires and smog

News

Published: 28Jul2021

More than 130 forest fires were burning in northwestern Ontario on Sunday, July 25, with Environment Canada issuing air quality statements for much of the region due to smoke. (CBC News)

Here are some experts from McGill University that can provide comment on this issue:

Mohammad Reza Alizadeh, PhD candidate, Department of Bioresource Engineering

“Climate change is pushing fire behavior to levels that were hard to imagine they would reach and quickly. Climate warming is enabling normally wet forests to burn, and as wildfires move to higher ground, more forest area is now at risk.”

Mohammad Reza Alizadeh is a PhD candidate in the Department of Bioresource Engineering working under the supervision of Professor Jan Adamowski. His principal research objective is to bridge the gap between hydrology, climatology, remote sensing, and machine learning, towards addressing critical global water and environmental resource issues. His research interests extend to compound climate extremes and natural hazards, drought and flood analysis, human-climate interactions, and hydrological forecasting.

mohammadreza.alizadeh [at] mail.mcgill.ca (English)

Parisa Ariya, James McGill Professor, Departments of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry 

“Climate change affects air quality and at the same time air pollutants, such as some greenhouse gases, are the main drivers of climate change. Summer smog in cities is formed predominantly via photochemical processes involving gases and particles. However, processes such as forest fire, medium- and long-term transport of particles such as dust and other local anthropogenic sources, can further alter the intensity and duration of smog. Poor air quality is known to have adverse impacts in several areas such as human health, ecosystem processes, and the reduction of visibility in the cities.” 

Parisa Ariya is a James McGill Professor cross-appointed to the Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences and Chemistry. A world leader in the study of bioaerosol transmission, her research explores major fundamental and applied research questions on chemical and physical processes involving aerosols (including air and waterborne viruses), as well as gaseous organic and trace metal pollutants of relevance to the Earth's atmosphere and to human health. 

parisa.ariya [at] mcgill.ca (English, French) 

Jill Baumgartner, Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health and Institute for Health and Social Policy

“The biggest health threat from wildfire smoke is from very small microscopic particles that can penetrate deep into your lungs and can cause a wide range of health problems, from less serious ones like burning eyes and a runny nose to very serious chronic heart and lung diseases. In fact, thousands of Canadians die every year from exposure to air pollution from sources that wildfire smoke.”

Jill Baumgartner is an Associate Professor and William Dawson Scholar cross-appointed to the Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics & Occupational Health and the Institute for Health and Social Policy. She also is an Associate Member of the Bieler School of Environment. She studies exposure to environmental pollutants and their affect on human health in the context of urbanization and development.

jill.baumgartner [at] mcgill.ca (English)

Contact Information

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Shirley Cardenas
Organization: 
Media Relations, McGill University
Email: 
shirley.cardenas [at] mcgill.ca
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(514) 398-6751
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(514) 594-6877
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