THE PAVILIONS PHUKET BRITISH INTERNATIONAL SCHOOL, PHUKET Kata Rocks
Login | Create Account Poll Currency Weather Facebook Youtube Search

2015 haze killed over 100,000: Study

INDONESIA: A smog outbreak in South East Asia last year may have caused over 100,000 premature deaths, according to a new study released this week that triggered calls for action to tackle the “killer haze”.

agriculturedeathenvironmenthealthlandpollution
By AFP

Saturday 24 September 2016, 11:00AM


A motorbike travels through thick haze in Palembang, on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. Photo: Abdul Qodir/AFP

A motorbike travels through thick haze in Palembang, on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. Photo: Abdul Qodir/AFP

Researchers from Harvard and Columbia universities in the US estimated there were more than 90,000 early deaths in Indonesia in areas closest to haze-belching fires, and several thousand more in neighbouring Singapore and Malaysia.

The new estimate, reached using a complex analytical model, is far higher than the previous official death toll given by authorities of just 19 deaths in Indonesia.

“If nothing changes, this killer haze will carry on taking a terrible toll, year after year,” said Greenpeace Indonesia forest campaigner Yuyun Indradi.

“Failure to act immediately to stem the loss of life would be a crime.”

A spokesman for Indonesia’s environment ministry did not immediately have any comment.

Indonesian authorities have previously insisted they are stepping up haze-fighting efforts, through such actions as banning the granting of new land for palm oil plantations and establishing an agency to restore devastated peatlands.

The haze is an annual problem caused by fires set in forest and on carbon-rich peatland in Indonesia to quickly and cheaply clear land for palm oil and pulpwood plantations.

The blazes occur mainly on Indonesia’s western Sumatra island and the Indonesian part of Borneo, with monsoon winds typically blowing the haze over Singapore and Malaysia.

But last year’s fires were among the worst in memory and cloaked large parts of the region in choking smog for weeks, causing huge numbers to fall ill and sending diplomatic tensions soaring.

The new study to be published in journal Environmental Research Letters, which combined satellite data with models of health impacts from smoke exposure and readings from pollution monitoring stations, estimated that 100,300 had died prematurely due to last year’s fires across the three countries.

They estimated there were 91,600 deaths in Indonesia, 6,500 in Malaysia and 2,200 in Singapore.

Greenpeace hailed a “groundbreaking” study they said for the first time gave a detailed breakdown of deaths from last year’s fires, but cautioned that the figure was a “conservative estimate”.

It only looked at health impacts on adults and the effect of dangerous fine-particulate matter, known as PM 2.5. It did not examine the effect on youngsters or of the other toxins produced by the blazes.

In reality, infants are some of the most at risk from the haze, said Nursyam Ibrahim, from the West Kalimantan province branch of the Indonesian Medical Association on Borneo.

“We are the doctors who care for the vulnerable groups exposed to toxic smoke in every medical centre, and we know how awful it is to see the disease symptoms experienced by babies and children in our care,” said Ibrahim.

The study found an increase in the number of fires in peatland and in timber concessions in 2015, compared to the last haze outbreak considered major, in 2006, and that the number of fires in palm oil plantations fell.

Shannon Koplitz, a Harvard scientist who worked on the study, said she also hoped the model they had developed could help those involved with tackling the annual blazes make quick decisions “as extreme haze events are unfolding”.

Last year’s haze outbreak was the worst since 1997 due to a strong El Nino weather system, which created tinder-dry conditions in Indonesia and made peatland and forests more vulnerable to going up in flames.

 

 

Comment on this story

* Please login to comment. If you do not have an account please register below by simply entering a username, password and email address. You can still leave your comment below at the same time.

Comments Here:
Comments Left:
# Characters
Username:
Password:
E-mail:
Security:

Be the first to comment.

Have a news tip-off? Click here

 

Phuket community
Phuket man nabbed with over 52,000 ya bah pills, ya ice

Pascale, like me, you could have seen BBC World and CNN about the Dutch tolerance, and thai visitors...(Read More)


Wildlife officials arrest slow loris tout at Bang Tao Beach

7 RTP officers ( in office) on a slow loris case. A case brought up mostly by others ( tourists) as ...(Read More)


Finances blamed for Phuket DJ suicide

@DEK, so, it is not a campaign against officials, they campaign against themselves all the time, you...(Read More)


Finances blamed for Phuket DJ suicide

@ DEK, understand many jobs gone/going due to the official regimental small thinker tourist approach...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

khun Pascale, as if you have forgotten, I reacted on your 'bar writing', which actually had ...(Read More)


Finances blamed for Phuket DJ suicide

DeeKaaskopp you are right but you will find stupid comments from him nearly every day. Complains aga...(Read More)


Phuket man nabbed with over 52,000 ya bah pills, ya ice

Pascale, or is it a member of that gang, using another account, you should read the full report on d...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

I just did a quick search of various English/Thai news outlets and if we include the guy who threw b...(Read More)


Phuket man nabbed with over 52,000 ya bah pills, ya ice

K,not knowing what's going on in your home country.Usually you tell us so much about it. You kno...(Read More)


Phuket man hunted for stabbing ex to death in jealous rage

...what a weird response ! What do bar closing times have to do with the behavior of a certain group...(Read More)