Impact of Wildfire Smoke Exposure on Health in Korea

Yonsei Med J. 2022 Aug;63(8):774-782. doi: 10.3349/ymj.2022.63.8.774.

ABSTRACT

PURPOSE: The characteristic topography and climate often affect the occurrence of large-scale wildfires in the Eastern Gangwon-do region of Korea. However, there are no studies on the health effects of these wildfires in Korea. This study aimed to analyze the differences in medical use between a wildfire-affected area and an adjacent non-affected area before and after a wildfire in 2019 in Gangwon-do, Korea.

MATERIALS AND METHODS: We used medical usage data from the Korean National Health Insurance Corporation. Rates of medical use were determined for citizens of a wildfire-affected area in the Eastern Yeongdong region and a non-affected area in the Western Yeongseo region. Logistic regression analysis was performed considering an increase in medical use per individual as a dependent variable; age, sex, income, smoking, drinking, and exercise were included as confounding variables.

RESULTS: The odds ratio for medical use in Yeongdong region increased significantly after 3 days, 3 months, and 1 year after a fire occurred, compared with Yeongseo region.

CONCLUSION: The results of this study confirmed that the use of medical care increased for residents of a wildfire-affected area, compared with those of an adjacent non-affected area. This is the first study on the relationship between wildfires and inpatient medical use in Korea.

PMID:35914760 | DOI:10.3349/ymj.2022.63.8.774

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