Air quality and health impacts of vegetation and peat fires in Equatorial Asia during 2004-2015

Particulate matter (PM) emissions from vegetation and peat fires in Equatorial Asia cause poor regional air quality. Burning is greatest during drought years, resulting in strong inter-annual variability in emissions. We make the first consistent estimate of the emissions, air quality and public health impacts of Equatorial Asian fires during 2004–2015. The largest dry season (August—October) emissions occurred in 2015, with PM emissions estimated as 9.4 Tg, more than triple the average dry season emission (2.7 Tg). Fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan caused 94% of PM emissions from fires in Equatorial Asia. Peat combustion in Indonesian peatlands contributed 45% of PM emissions, with a greater contribution of 68% in 2015. We used the WRF-chem model to simulate dry season PM for the 6 biggest fire years during this period (2004, 2006, 2009, 2012, 2014, 2015). The model reproduces PM concentrations from a measurement network across Malaysia and Indonesia, suggesting our PM emissions are realistic. We estimate long-term exposure to PM resulted in 44 040 excess deaths in 2015, with more than 15 000 excess deaths annually in 2004, 2006, and 2009. Exposure to PM from dry season fires resulted in an estimated 131 700 excess deaths during 2004–2015. Our work highlights that Indonesian vegetation and peat fires frequently cause adverse impacts to public health across the region.
  • Authors: Kiely, L., Spracklen, D.V., Wiedinmyer, C., Conibear, L., Reddington, C.L., Arnold, S.R., Knote, C., Khan, M.F., Latif, M.T., Syaufina, L., Adrianto, H.A.
  • Author Affiliation: University of Leeds, University of Colorado, Ludwig-Maximilians University, University of Malaya, University Kebangsaan Malaysia, IPB University
  • Subjects: emissions, vegetation, peat, peatlands, forest fires, air quality, environmental impacts
  • Publication type: Journal Article
  • Source: Environmental Research Letters 15(9): 094054
  • Year: 2020
  • DOI:
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