Indonesian fires exposed 69 million to 'killer haze'

2015 wildfires linked to as many as 17,270 premature deaths

November 16, 2016 | NCAR scientist Christine Wiedinmyer is a co-author of a new study into the health effects of the 2015 Indonesian wildfires. This is an excerpt from a news release issued by Newcastle University.  

Wildfires in Indonesia and Borneo exposed 69 million people to unhealthy air pollution, new research has shown.

NASA image of wildfires in Sumatra
An image taken from space of smoke billowing from fires in Jambi Province on the Indonesian island of Sumatra. The false-color image was made with a combination of visible (green) and infrared light so that fires and freshly burned land stand out. (Image courtesy NASA.)

The study, published today in Scientific Reports, gives the most accurate picture yet of the impact on human health of the wildfires which ripped through forest and peatland in Equatorial Asia during the autumn of 2015.

The study used detailed observations of the haze from Singapore and Indonesia. Analysing hourly air quality data from a model at a resolution of 10km – where all previous studies have looked at daily levels at a much lower resolution - the team was able to show that a quarter of the population of Malaysia, Singapore and Indonesia was exposed to unhealthy air quality conditions between September and October 2015.

Estimating between 6,150 and 17,270 premature deaths occurred as a direct result of the polluted haze, the research team – involving academics from the UK, US, Singapore and Malaysia – said the study confirmed the extent of this public health crisis.

Read the full news release by Newcastle University.

About the article

Title: Population exposure to hazardous air quality due to the 2015 fires in Equatorial Asia

Authors: P. Crippa, S. Castruccio, S. Archer-Nicholls, G. B. Lebron, M. Kuwata, A. Thota, S. Sumin, E. Butt, C. Wiedinmyer, and D. V. Spracklen

Journal: Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/srep37074

 


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