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Seattle Journal of Technology, Environmental & Innovation Law

Abstract

With the rise of global temperatures, climatologists predict a corresponding increase in the frequency and severity of wildfires in the Pacific Northwest. Rising temperatures are expected to create drier conditions in forests, thereby creating environmental conditions more prone to forest fires. Wildfires have become a common enough occurrence in the Pacific Northwest that summers have become synonymous with smoky conditions, but the issue is not constrained to this region. Though the Pacific Northwest has recently acted as a harbinger of increasing wildfires, environmental scientists forecast an increase in fire risk throughout the Western United States. The predicted rise in forest fire occurrence carries with it an increase in wildfire smoke for the surrounding areas, with winds carrying smoke far across state lines. These smoky conditions, in turn, are hazardous to health. State-level worksite regulations have proven ineffective at protecting workers from smoke-related health risks. Though wildfire smoke might currently appear as a predominantly Pacific Northwest issue, the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) must implement its own federal-level regulations in order to fully protect workers.

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