Sprawling over nearly half of Brazil’s territory and encompassing nine of its states, the Amazon region is home to over 20 million Brazilians. Since 1985 – when the government began monitoring deforestation in the Amazon – more than half a million square kilometers have been razed. This deforestation typically culminates in fires as the vegetation remaining after valuable trees are removed is set ablaze, often illegally. While fires burn throughout the year in the Amazon to clear land for agriculture, cattle-grazing, or land speculation, they usually peak during the dry season between July and October. These fires produce air pollution that poses a severe health risk. Children, older people, pregnant persons, and people with pre-existing lung or heart diseases are especially vulnerable.
This joint report by the Institute for Health Policy Studies (Instituto de Estudos para Políticas de Saúde, IEPS), Amazon Environmental Research Institute (Instituto de Pesquisa Ambiental da Amazônia, IPAM), and Human Rights Watch assesses the health impact of deforestation-related fires in the Brazilian Amazon in 2019.