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Flames rise during the fire in the village of Peyki as firefigters and residents continue to respond on the fifth day of a wildfire in the area north of the island of Evia, Greece, on Aug. 8. Photo: Dimitris Lampropoulos/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

Exposure to high levels of fine particle pollution produced by wildfires may have led to thousands more COVID cases and deaths, according to a new study published in the journal Science Advances.

Why it matters: Research has shown that smoke can have dangerous health impacts, a correlation that is putting more and more at risk as the pandemic collides with the climate crisis.

Details: Researchers tracked more than 90 counties in California and Washington that were ravaged by wildfires last year, and found that nearly 20% of COVID cases in certain counties were linked to elevated levels of wildfire smoke.

  • In some counties, an even higher percentage of COVID deaths could be associated with wildfire smoke.
  • Their models accounted for other variables, including weather, population and general COVID trends, to control for factors that might influence the findings.
  • "Scientists who study air quality say it is possible that smoke particles could carry the virus," the Washington Post writes. "There are also other possible dynamics involved, such as people tending to gather indoors to avoid wildfire smoke, which could lead to more interaction with infected people."

What they're saying: "This illustrates the systemic and contingent nature of crises and how the effects of one global crisis (climate change) can have cascading effects on concurrent global crises (the COVID-19 pandemic) that play out in location-specific ways (increased COVID-19 cases and deaths due to wildfire)," the authors wrote in the study.

The big picture: Climate change is increasingly inducing wildfires, and they won't stop anytime soon. Rapid global warming is reaching across the globe and making the world a more volatile place, per a recent UN-sponsored report.

Go deeper: In photos: Where wildfires are blazing around the world

Go deeper

Cannabis orders are now available on Uber Eats in Ontario

Cannabis shops High Variety and Tokyo Smoke in Toronto, Canada. Photo: Steve Russell/Toronto Star via Getty Images

Cannabis retailer Tokyo Smoke and Uber Canada are partnering to streamline the process for ordering cannabis in Ontario, the companies announced Monday.

Why it matters: Tokyo Smoke is the first cannabis merchant to be listed on Uber Eats across all of Uber's global markets, Uber Canada said.

Study casts doubt on climate emissions pledge estimates

In an aerial view, floodwaters surround homes and farms on Nov. 20 in Abbotsford, British Columbia. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

A new analysis casts doubt on whether scientists can precisely estimate how much nations' combined emissions-cutting pledges will stem global warming, instead showing a wide range of potential outcomes.

Why it matters: World leaders need to know if emissions targets currently on the table would meet the Paris Agreement's temperature goals or if more stringent commitments are needed. The new study shows they may be placing too much faith in temperature projections.

Updated 3 mins ago - Sports

MLB headed for first lockout since '95 as deal expires

Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred (L) and Major League Baseball Players Association executive director Tony Clark. Photo: Matt King/MLB via Getty Images

Major League Baseball's collective bargaining agreement expired at 11:59 p.m. ET Wednesday without a new deal in place.

Why it matters: With no CBA, the MLB is facing the first management lockout since a 1994-95 strike led to the cancelation of the World Series for the first time in 90 years.

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