(Rio de Janeiro) Forest fires in the Brazilian Amazon are “poisoning the air” and causing a surge in respiratory diseases, especially in babies, in a region seriously affected by COVID-19, according to a study published Wednesday.
Posted on August 26, 2020 at 4:42 PM
France Media Agency
Last year, the fires that devastated the world’s largest rainforest caused the hospitalization of 2,195 people with respiratory problems, according to a study conducted by several NGOs, including Human Rights Watch (HRW).
Nearly a quarter (467) were infants less than one year old and about half were older than 60 years.
“Fires from uncontrolled deforestation poison the air millions of people breathe, affecting health throughout the Brazilian Amazon,” said HRW, the Amazon Institute for Environmental Research (IPAM). and the Institute for Health Policy Studies (IEPS).
And given the latest data showing alarming numbers of deforestation and fires in the Amazon, the authors of this study fear an even worse situation in 2020, especially as the problem could be exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic.
Brazil’s northern states, especially Amazonas, which are almost completely covered in tropical rainforest, were badly affected, especially in April and May.
The situation has since improved, but the increase in wildfires, which are usually more severe from August to October, could again saturate hospitals.
Another study, published Tuesday by the Socio-Environmental Institute (ISA), also shows an increase in hospital admissions among indigenous peoples at the height of the Amazon fires.
Many specialists believe that these problems have only gotten worse since far-right President Jair Bolsonaro came to power in early 2019.
“The continued inability of the Bolsonaro government to combat this environmental crisis has immediate implications for the health of the people of the Amazon and long-term implications for global climate change,” said Maria Laura Canineu, director. for Brazil to Human Rights Watch.
But President Bolsonaro recently said that fears of a flaming Amazon were “lies.”
However, satellite data collected by the National Institute for Space Research (INPE), a public body, shows a 28% increase in the number of fires in July compared to the same period last year.