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In the summer of 2017, internal medicine physician and Missoula resident Dr. Tom Roberts suffered a major heart attack, despite having no prior symptoms or risk for heart disease. Roberts’ heart attack occurred during a heavy smoke event. He believes, and there is evidence to support, that the smoke event may have caused his heart attack.

“The health effects of wildfire smoke are real. Fortunately, I was near excellent medical care and did well. Now, I pay close attention to air quality and make good choices about limiting my exposure.” – Tom Roberts, MD

In the West, we are witness to the impacts of changing climate with unprecedented drought, flooding, extreme heat, and fire season starting earlier and lasting longer. Despite our state being spared an early fire season in 2022, 1,800 wildfires have burned this year and 70% of our residents live in areas experiencing drought. Record-breaking heat occurred from June through September. Parts of Montana, including Yellowstone National Park, experienced never-before-seen flooding this summer.

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Hillery Daily is a naturopathic doctor in Hamilton. Allison Young is a pediatrician in Missoula. Emory Hoelscher-Hull is a student at Montana State University.

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