The North Carolina Journal of Mathematics and Statistics

Association Between Fire-Related Particulate Matter Exposure and Childhood Asthma in Peru: A Burden of Disease Assessment

Sarah M. Austin, Mark A. Weaver


We explore the connection between exposure to particulate matter from forest fire emissions in the Peruvian Amazon and pediatric asthma incidence. The bulk of research and media coverage surrounding the Amazon Rainforest fires has focused on important environmental issues, yet the direct impact that these fires have on the health of children living nearby remains underexplored. We conducted a burden of disease assessment using publicly available data to estimate the number of incident pediatric asthma cases attributable to long term exposure to ambient particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) resulting from increased forest fires in the Peruvian Amazon. Our model compares pediatric asthma burden that would have resulted from a more “typical'' fire year, such as 2009, with that from 2016, a severe fire year, by applying PM2.5 concentrations from each of those years to the same 2016 population. We estimate that 75,160 (95 % CI 28,638, 121,682) pediatric asthma cases in 2016 were attributable to PM2.5, whereas counterfactually applying the 2009 PM2.5 concentrations would have resulted in 9,636 (95 % CI 5,657, 13,615) fewer attributable cases. Thus, our results suggest that increased forest fire emissions have led to a notable increase in pediatric asthma burden in Peru.


Burden of disease; Amazon; raster data; pediatric; asthma incidence.

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