Questions for “Warning: Wildfires might make you itch”

a photo of an orange sky behind a bridge

Smoke from wildfires mixed with sunlight last September to give a burnt orange glow to the morning and evening skies around San Francisco, Calif. The aerosols spewed by those fires can make people itch, new data show.

Philip Pacheco/Stringer/Getty Images News

To accompany “Warning: Wildfires might make you itch


Before Reading:

1.  Studies have linked wildfire smoke to a broad range of health effects. What are some of them?

2.  What do you know about what causes wildfires? Based on what you’ve heard in the past, has damage from these blazes generally been growing, holding steady or decreasing in recent years?

During Reading:

1.  When did the Camp Fire occur and how long did it last? Describe some measures of how severe it was.

2.  What is eczema and why does Maria Wei describe its effects as sometimes “life-altering”?

3.  How did doctor’s visits for eczema change after the Camp Fire, according to the story?

4.  How did the rate of eczema change in children versus adults? Why does Wei argue that this trend is not surprising?

5.  What type of recent changes did Shu Li and Tirtha Banerjee find in California’s wildfire season? What size fires were most affected?

6.  According to a new study in Environmental Research Letters, why have residents of Utah, Colorado and Nevada been suffering poorer summer air quality?

After Reading:

1.  What seems to be the link between climate change and wildfires? (If you need background on the issue, see Is climate change fanning megafires?) Based on what you’ve learned, and drawing from what you read in the story, what case can be made that climate change may underlie a worsening incidence of eczema?

2.  Of all the impacts of wildfires that you’re aware of, which are the worst three? If you lived in a part of the world that frequently encounters wildfires, which health risks from those fires do you think would pose the biggest threats to you or members of your family?