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Health Study Looking Into Impacts Of Ashes on Peoples’ Lungs

Fort McMurray, AB, Canada / MIX 103.7
Health Study Looking Into Impacts Of Ashes on Peoples' Lungs

Abasand May 2018//Photo by: Harvard Broadcasting Reporter Brandon Piper

The University of Toronto is starting a new study to determine the health effects of the Horse River Wildfire.

Last July, they took dust samples from around 70 homes to determine whether or not ashes were still lingering.

Assistant Professor at the University of Toronto Arthur Chan tells Mix News their preliminary results showed the levels were surprisingly low.

“The average levels we found are low compared to the Alberta Health guidelines, the levels in Fort McMurray are actually quite low compared to the average Canadian city.”

Chan says the early results show the wildfire has had little to no effect on the dust in peoples’ homes.

“We just have no evidence to suggest the big fire had any residual impacts on the houses.”

However, they will be back in July looking to gather samples from more homes to make sure the results are consistent.

Health Study

Chan notes they’re about to start the second phase of the study – determining the impacts directly to peoples’ lungs.

The team is partnering with a lung specialist from the General Toronto Hospital who will look at the respiratory health of residents.

“The idea is that we would compare what we see in the house and the environment to the health response of the human body,” he added.

People who take part in the study would need to conduct some lung function tests and take blood and urine samples.

Chan adds studying human health can be a complex thing as there could be many different reasons for why certain chemicals, possibly coming from ashes, are found in the body.

“What we hope to answer is whether or not the environmental exposure would be associated with health response.”

Anyone interested in participating in either study can sign up at chem-eng.utoronto.ca.

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