All-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory mortality and wildfire-related ozone: a multicountry two-stage time series analysis


Background. Wildfire activity is an important source of tropospheric ozone (O3) pollution. However, no study to date has systematically examined the associations of wildfire-related O3 exposure with mortality globally. Methods. We did a multicountry two-stage time series analysis. From the Multi-City Multi-Country (MCC) Collaborative Research Network, data on daily all-cause, cardiovascular, and respiratory deaths were obtained from 749 locations in 43 countries or areas, representing overlapping periods from Jan 1, 2000, to Dec 31, 2016. We estimated the daily concentration of wildfire-related O3 in study locations using a chemical transport model, and then calibrated and downscaled O3 estimates to a resolution of 0·25° × 0·25° (approximately 28 km2 at the equator). Using a random-effects meta-analysis, we examined the associations of short-term wildfire-related O3 exposure (lag period of 0–2 days) with daily mortality, first at the location level and then pooled at the country, regional, and global levels. Annual excess mortality fraction in each location attributable to wildfire-related O3 was calculated with pooled effect estimates and used to obtain excess mortality fractions at country, regional, and global levels. Findings. Between 2000 and 2016, the highest maximum daily wildfire-related O3 concentrations (≥30 μg/m3) were observed in locations in South America, central America, and southeastern Asia, and the country of South Africa. Across all locations, an increase of 1 μg/m3 in the mean daily concentration of wildfire-related O3 during lag 0–2 days was associated with increases of 0·55% (95% CI 0·29 to 0·80) in daily all-cause mortality, 0·44% (–0·10 to 0·99) in daily cardiovascular mortality, and 0·82% (0·18 to 1·47) in daily respiratory mortality. The associations of daily mortality rates with wildfire-related O3 exposure showed substantial geographical heterogeneity at the country and regional levels. Across all locations, estimated annual excess mortality fractions of 0·58% (95% CI 0·31 to 0·85; 31606 deaths [95% CI 17038 to 46027]) for all-cause mortality, 0·41% (–0·10 to 0·91; 5249 [–1244 to 11620]) for cardiovascular mortality, and 0·86% (0·18 to 1·51; 4657 [999 to 8206]) for respiratory mortality were attributable to short-term exposure to wildfire-related O3. Interpretation. In this study, we observed an increase in all-cause and respiratory mortality associated with short-term wildfire-related O3 exposure. Effective risk and smoke management strategies should be implemented to protect the public from the impacts of wildfires.

The Lancet Planetary Health, 8:(7):E452-E462