Sumary of Forest fires linked to tens of thousands of avoidable deaths:
- Setting fire to forest and agricultural land in Southeast Asia to prepare it for cultivation or grazing causes air pollution that is contributing to an estimated 59,000 premature deaths a year, according to a new scientific study.
- ” Burning — a major source of air pollutants Across Southeast Asia, an area including Myanmar, Thailand, Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam and southeast China, farmers burn forest as a way of clearing land for cultivation or to graze animals, often in the pre-monsoon period, usually in February to April.
- The fires generate a range of harmful pollutants, including fine particulate matter known as PM2.5 — tiny particles that measure 2.5 microns (where a micron is one millionth of a metre) or less.
- The concentration of PM2.5 — the fine particulates — would fall by between 40 and 70 percent in those areas experiencing the greatest emissions.
- Using epidemiological modelling, the scientists calculated the reduction in PM2.5 could reduce premature deaths caused by exposure to air pollution.
- In Southeast Asia deaths would fall by 12 percent, ranging from five percent in Vietnam to 28 percent in Laos and three percent in southeastern China.
- In total an estimated 59,000 premature deaths could be prevented each year.
- They also mapped poverty data against PM2.5 concentrations and found that poorer, rural populations in Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar were exposed to higher levels of fine particle pollution.