"Fires Fuel New Risks to California Farmworkers"

"As climate change amplifies the health risks of extreme heat and pollution from wildfires, researchers scramble to protect farmworkers."

"On a mild December evening in 2017,  Southern California’s powerful Santa Ana winds fueled a massive wildfire after smashing power lines together and carrying molten bits of metal onto the dry ground.

The Thomas Fire, California’s largest at the time, ultimately torched 440 square miles and cost Ventura and Santa Barbara counties’ $3.5 billion agricultural industry nearly $200 million in damaged crops and buildings.

Researchers are still tallying the impacts on farmworkers, who were especially hard hit by the smoke and falling ash, the stress of working near a raging fire and, in some cases, lost workdays.

Exposure to wildfire smoke is a growing threat to farmworkers, many of whom are forced to toil through fires that are not just more frequent and severe but more toxic than ever. And as each year brings bigger and more destructive fires, scientists are scrambling to identify all the chemicals in smoke and the risks they pose."

Liza Gross reports for Inside Climate News September 21, 2021.

Source: Inside Climate News, 09/22/2021