15 de setembro de 2020
atualizado em 24 de agosto de 2023
INTRODUCTION – Some of the poorest regions of the world have been severely exposed to greenhouse gas emissions originated from landscape fires, which release around two petagrams of carbon into the atmosphere every year, in particular stemming from tropical forests, grasslands and the savanna (Van der Werf et al., 2010). While there exist increasingly concerns as well as understanding about how fire activity and related deforestation have contributed to global greenhouse gas emissions, reshaped the environment, and influenced the Earth system, less attention has been paid to their potentially detrimental health impacts on local populations (Johnston et al., 2012; Van der Werf et al., 2010). Yet, many of the chemical components in biomass smoke are known to be hazardous to human health, specially fine particulate matter, which can penetrate the pulmonary alveolus, reach the blood, accumulate in other human organs and cause DNA damage (de Oliveira Alves et al., 2017; Guan et al., 2016).
In this paper we assess the effects of fire-related air pollution on population health in the Brazilian Amazon, which is home of 23 million inhabitants and spans over a large and heterogeneous area in terms of population characteristics and patterns of land-use and deforestation. The economic activity is mostly driven by agriculture, the region is sparsely inhabited and there are relatively few and scattered urban settlements. In that sense, ambient air pollution is mainly related to fires and biomass burning (Reddington et al., 2015). While fire activity tends to increase with droughts in specific years, it is often related to anthropogenic degradation and agricultural practices. Most deforested plots in the Brazilian Amazon are burned in preparation for cattle ranching, crop and mining activities (Motta, 2002). Approximately 42% of the total Brazilian greenhouse gas emissions have originated from land cover change in the region, which has recently witnessed an outbreak of deforestation-related fires and a surge in biomass smoke (Silvério et al., 2019; Brasil, 2018).