Forest Fires, Air Pollution, and Mortality in Southeast Asia

by Narayan Sastry

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In this paper, the author assesses the population health effects in Malaysia of air pollution generated by a widespread series of fires that occurred mainly in Indonesia between April and November of 1997. The author describes how the forest fires occurred and why the associated air pollution was so widespread and long lasting. The main objective is to determine whether there were mortality effects and to assess how large and important these were. The author also investigates whether the mortality effects were persistent or whether they simply represented a short-term, mortality harvesting effect. The results show that the smoke haze from these fires had a deleterious effect on population health in Malaysia.

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Originally published in: Demography, v. 39, no. 1, February 2002, pp. 1-23.

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