"Wildfire smoke was associated with a far greater number of pediatric respiratory care visits than other sources of airborne fine particles, according to a new study, even when wildfires were less severe.
The study, published Tuesday in Pediatrics, examined more than 170,000 emergency and urgent care visits for respiratory concerns from 2011 to 2017 in the Rady Children’s Hospital Network, which cares for around 90% of hospitalized children in San Diego County. The concerns included difficulty breathing, respiratory distress, wheezing, asthma, and cough. Researchers found that a 10-unit increase of airborne particles less than 2.5 micrometers wide — known as PM2.5 — from wildfire smoke was associated with a 30% spike in admissions, compared to 3.7% from non-smoke sources, such as traffic emissions.
“It’s quite a big bit of a difference,” said Rosana Aguilera, the study’s lead author and a postdoctoral researcher in environmental health at the University of California, San Diego. “I don’t know if I was expecting that high number.”"