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  1. Abstract

    Alaskan wildfires have major ecological, social, and economic consequences, but associated health impacts remain unexplored. We estimated cardiorespiratory morbidity associated with wildfire smoke (WFS) fine particulate matter with a diameter less than 2.5 μm (PM2.5) in three major population centers (Anchorage, Fairbanks, and the Matanuska‐Susitna Valley) during the 2015–2019 wildfire seasons. To estimate WFS PM2.5, we utilized data from ground‐based monitors and satellite‐based smoke plume estimates. We implemented time‐stratified case‐crossover analyses with single and distributed lag models to estimate the effect of WFS PM2.5on cardiorespiratory emergency department (ED) visits. On the day of exposure to WFS PM2.5, there was an increased odds of asthma‐related ED visits among 15–65 year olds (OR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.08, 1.16), people >65 years (OR = 1.15, 95% CI = 1.01, 1.31), among Alaska Native people (OR = 1.16, 95% CI = 1.09, 1.23), and in Anchorage (OR = 1.10, 95% CI = 1.05, 1.15) and Fairbanks (OR = 1.12, 95% CI = 1.07, 1.17). There was an increased risk of heart failure related ED visits for Alaska Native people (Lag Day 5 OR = 1.13, 95% CI = 1.02, 1.25). We found evidence that rural populations may delay seeking care. As the frequency and magnitude of Alaskan wildfires continue to increase due to climate change, understanding the health impacts will be imperative. A nuanced understanding of the effects of WFS on specific demographic and geographic groups facilitates data‐driven public health interventions and fire management protocols that address these adverse health effects.

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