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Workers' Compensation Benefits for Exposure to Wildfire Smoke
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Workers' Compensation Benefits for Exposure to Wildfire Smoke

Workers' Compensation

Wildfire smoke can contain harmful pollutants, including fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which can cause various health problems, including respiratory illness, heart disease, and cancer. Workers exposed to wildfire smoke regularly are at an increased risk of developing these health problems.

Workers’ compensation benefits may be available to exposed and injured workers, including the payment of temporary disability benefits, medical benefits, and permanency benefits.

The potential for occupational illness from wildfire smoke exposure depends on a number of factors, including the level of exposure, the duration of exposure, the worker's age and health, and the type of work they do. Workers who are most at risk of developing health problems from wildfire smoke exposure include:

  • Firefighters

  • Emergency responders

  • Construction workers

  • Landscapers

  • Farmers

  • Outdoor workers

To prevent exposure to wildfire smoke, workers should:

  • Stay indoors when possible.

  • If they must go outside, wear a N-95 respirator or other approved respiratory protection.

  • Avoid strenuous activity when the air quality is poor.

  • Monitor air quality reports and follow the recommendations of local health officials.

If you experience any health problems after being exposed to wildfire smoke, such as shortness of breath, coughing, or chest pain, see a doctor right away.

Here are some additional tips for protecting yourself from wildfire smoke:

  • Keep windows and doors closed when the air quality is poor.

  • Use an air purifier if you have one.

  • Take a shower or bath after being outside to wash away any pollutants that may have settled on your skin or hair.

  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated.

  • Get plenty of rest.

If you have any underlying health conditions, such as asthma or heart disease, talk to your doctor about how to protect yourself from wildfire smoke.

Recommended Citation: Jon L. Gelman,  Workers' Compensation Benefits for Exposure to Wildfire Smoke, (June 7, 2023),


Jon L. Gelman of Wayne, NJ, is the author of NJ Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters) and co-author of the national treatise Modern Workers’ Compensation Law (Thomson-Reuters). For over five decades, the Law Offices of Jon L Gelman 1.973.696.7900 have represented injured workers and their families who have suffered occupational accidents and illnesses.

© 2023 Jon L Gelman. All rights reserved.
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Updated: June 7, 2023

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