According to scientists, forest fires in Southeast Asia each year take the life of 15,000 people when the El Niño phenomenon covers the region. The death of so many people due to severe air pollution to the local increase in the concentration of ozone, which are stress factors, such as the heart and to the lungs.
U.S. scientists Environment analyzed the levels of harmful particles in the air in the south-east Asia in the period from 1997 to 2006. It should be noted that the fires caused by farmers to clear fields and forests occur in the region each year. But in periods of drought, fires breaking out on carbon-rich peat swamps, and can burn for months.
Especially dangerous fires during El Niño, when the weather is characterized by severe drought in the tropical western Pacific Ocean, rains and flooding — in the east. It is believed that between 1997 and 1998 saw the strongest effect of El Niño in the history of the 20th century. This was followed in 2002-2003 and 2006 were observed for at least a strong effect. During fire emissions of hazardous particles greater than 50 levels that are typical of La Niña effect, in which the Western Pacific are characterized by humidity, and east — the drought.
According to the World Health Organization, during the El Niño duration fires exceeded the norms of air pollution by fine particles could be up to 200 days. The particles smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter, are dangerous to health because it can easily penetrate into the lungs. For the region, with 540-million population, most of which close to the fire area, the annual death toll from cardiovascular disease during the El Niño of 10 800 people.
To these can be added to the 4,100 who die from ozone — triatomic molecule of oxygen. Ozone is beneficial in the upper atmosphere as well as serves as a shield against the penetration of dangerous UV rays. Located on the ground level, ozone irritates the respiratory tract, causing shortness of breath, coughing and chest pain, thus compromising the health of the elderly and people suffering from heart and respiratory diseases.
The studies oblige authorities southeast Asia to take measures to prevent deforestation and halt the devastating fires. The study was conducted under the direction of Miriam Marlene at Columbia University of New York and published in the journal Nature Climate Change.