The Public Health Toll of Indonesia’s Forest Fires

Haze from Indonesian forest fires last year might have caused 100,000 deaths, according to a forthcoming study by Harvard and Columbia University scientists to be published in Environmental Research Letters.

The fires burned 261,000 hectares of land from July to October last year—most were part of annual efforts to clear land for the ag and paper industries.

The new research marks a step toward quantifying the suspected health threats of fine particulate matter from the fires. The preliminary findings should be a “wake-up call” for Indonesia to take strong steps to curb the fires, said Rajasekhar Bala of the National University of Singapore, who was not involved in the study.



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