Premature Deaths in Brazil Associated With Long‐Term Exposure to PM2.5 From Amazon Fires Between 2016 and 2019
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Premature Deaths in Brazil Associated With Long‐Term Exposure to PM2.5 From Amazon Fires Between 2016 and 2019

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    Amazonian deforestation from slash‐and‐burn practices is a significant contributor to biomass burning within Brazil. Fires emit carbonaceous aerosols that negatively impact human health by increasing fine particulate matter (PM2.5) exposure. These negative effects on health compound the already detrimental climatological and ecological impacts. Despite high biomass burning emissions in Brazil and the international attention drawn by the relaxation of Amazon protections in 2019, little is known about the health impacts from PM2.5 exposure attributable to these fires. We estimate PM2.5‐related premature deaths in Brazil associated with biomass burning, focusing on temporal, interannual, and spatial trends. We find that during the fire season of 2019, 4,966 (2,427, 8,340) premature deaths were attributable to fire emissions making up 10% (5, 17) of all PM2.5‐related premature deaths in Brazil. Between the 2019 and 2018 seasons, fire emissions increased by 1.37 Tg (1.00, 2.18) or 115% (60, 201), which was responsible for an increase in health impacts of 2,109 (965, 3,623) premature deaths or 74% (54, 98). Biomass burning emissions throughout Brazil contribute significantly to premature deaths, with the largest burning events occurring in northwestern Brazil. The impact of fires on PM2.5‐related premature deaths is highest in heavily populated regions despite their fires being 1 to 2 orders of magnitude smaller than the largest burning events. Results from this study characterize the extent to which elevated PM2.5 exposure levels owing to fires affect public health in Brazil and present an additional, public health‐focused, support for increased Amazon protections.
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    GeoHealth 4(8): e2020GH000268, 2020
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    CC BY
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