Smoke from forest fires affects the offspring of animals

(ORDO NEWS) — 2021 was a record year for the number of fires in California, Australia and Siberia. Smoke from fires is known to cause a range of adverse health effects in humans, including coughing, headaches, and burning eyes. A new study showed that this smoke also affected the health of animals.

Alas, forest fires greatly affect the population and health of animals. This could lead to the extinction of some species.

Researchers at the University of California, Davis, USA, found that baby rhesus monkeys (Rhesus macaque), conceived while their mothers were exposed to wildfire smoke, showed behavioral changes, including memory problems.

In the study, the team studied the effects of smoke from a 2018 California fire on animals kept at the California National Primate Research Center.

The fire began on November 8 and burned a total of 153,336 acres, destroying 18,804 structures, killing 85 civilians and injuring several firefighters, making it the deadliest and most destructive fire in California history.

A total of 89 monkeys were conceived around this time. Of these, 52 mothers were exposed to smoke, and 37 were not. All cubs were born after about six months. When the children were about 3-4 months old, the researchers assessed their cognitive and behavioral skills.

Smoke from forest fires affects the offspring of animals 2

The analysis found that infants whose mothers were exposed to wildfire smoke experienced an increase in an inflammatory marker, decreased cortisol response to stress, memory deficits, and a more passive nature than those whose mothers were not exposed.

The findings suggest that at least one component of wildfire smoke may interfere with embryonic or fetal development.

While it remains unclear exactly what the element is, the team believes it could be airborne hydrocarbons such as phthalates, which were found in the campfire smoke.

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