What is the UC Davis California Wildfire and Health Impacts Survey?

UC Davis scientists in public health, epidemiology, engineering and environmental sciences are conducting research to understand the broad picture of environmental and human health outcomes of recent fires through the Wildfires and Health: Assessing the Toll in Northern California program. The UC Davis California Wildfire and Health Impacts Survey is part of that overall research.

What are the goals of the survey?

The survey is designed to capture information on the experiences, demographics, and health of individuals and families who survived the fires or smoke from the fires, as well as those who simply were living in counties affected by the fires.

How can I complete the survey?

The UC Davis Northern California Wildfire and Health Impacts Survey can be completed online in English here.

The UC Davis California Wildfire and Health Impacts Survey is now open to Northern Californians affected by the Camp Fire. It can be completed online here.

Who should complete the survey?

The survey is open to all households located in a Northern California county that was directly or indirectly affected by the flames, smoke or ash from the 2018 Camp Fire, which destroyed the town of Paradise, whether or not your household experienced any of these exposures. Only one survey per household should be provided, however multiple household members can help in completing that one survey. Having a wide range of households with diverse experiences participate in the survey is essential so that outcomes and recovery needs can be compared. The broader the participation, the more valid and reliable the conclusions will be.

What kinds of questions are on the survey?

The survey includes questions about respondents and their family members, what they experienced during and after the fires, their health and their post-fire recovery needs. All responses are confidential.

How long will it take to complete the survey?

For most people, the survey takes about 20 to 30 minutes to complete. 

Do all survey questions have to be answered at one time?

 You can start, take a break and return to the survey, however you need to use the same computer and the same browser each time you access the survey in order to save your prior answers and continue from where you left off.

Given what I’ve been through with the fires, what if I get upset while completing the survey?

Some people might prefer not to be reminded of their experiences during and since the fires. If you don’t want to answer a question, you can skip it. If you live with others, you can also ask another member of the household to complete survey questions you find troubling.

Who is leading the fire research?

The post-fire research, including the survey, is led by Irva Hertz-Picciotto, professor of epidemiology and public health sciences and director of the Environmental Health Sciences Center at the University of California, Davis.

Why is it important to conduct research about the fires?

Very little is known about the compounds in the smoke and ash from urban areas burned by fires. Even less is known about the health outcomes of chemical exposures from that smoke and ash.

If you have another question about the survey or need more information, email
hs-wildfireproject@ucdavis.edu.

Hertz-Picciotto and her research team hope to fill some of these gaps.

First, they will determine the chemical components of ash collected in the post-fire period from urban areas where building materials and household furnishings and other items burned at very high temperatures. They will compare this urban ash with ash from areas of vegetation only.

Second, the researchers will combine the survey responses to learn about experiences of residents who did and did not evacuate, including their health, symptoms, losses, needs and current status. They will also compare different communities to determine which neighborhoods appear to be recovering more slowly, or having more persistent health problems, and to understand how heavy smoke exposures may contribute to greater health problems.

Finally, participants will be given the opportunity to donate hair or blood samples that can be used to identify specific chemical exposures or markers of stress.

Altogether, the research results will help paint a clearer picture of the full impacts of the fires and how different communities were affected, as well as assist agencies and relief organizations working to reduce potential health impacts from these fires and speed the recovery process. The findings may also enhance planning and preparedness for future fire events.

Results of the UC Davis research will be available to the public. 

How is the project funded? 

The survey is a project of the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center, which is funded by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, one of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). 

What is the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center?

Established in 2015, the UC Davis Environmental Health Sciences Center links UC Davis experts in multiple schools — medicine, veterinary medicine, engineering, biological sciences, letters and science, agricultural and environmental sciences — for studies on the effects of environmental chemicals, pollutants, and disasters on disease and disability. The ultimate goal is to foster new approaches and policies that protect communities from harmful exposures. 

How can I ask additional questions about the survey? 

Questions about the survey can be emailed to hs-wildfireproject@ucdavis.edu.