Impacts of wildfire on farmworker respiratory health in the western USA
In recent years, wildfire frequency and intensity has increased globally, and particularly on the West Coast in the United States. States on the West Coast also produce a large proportion of the agricultural products consumed in the United States—many of which farmworkers manually harvest. Our project focuses on the impacts of heat and wildfire particulate exposure on farmworker health. We model the projected impact of wildfire fine particulate matter (PM2.5) and heat exposure on COVID-19 susceptibility. By combining satellite imagery of wildfire extent, air quality data across Oregon and California, agricultural crop production cycles, and labor demand data, we propose a model to quantify the respiratory health risks farmworkers face when engaging in outdoor agricultural work. We expect our case study to be an example that can be applied to other states and can contribute to the literature on the intersections of environmental health and justice. Working with local labor unions, we intend to recommend remedial actions based on our findings.