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Themes and Indicators

Themes are the priority subjects of studies, grouped by the Observatory, for the identification of climate patterns and their effects on health. 

Indicators are measures that express or quantify a service, an input, a result, a characteristic or performance of a product, a process, or organization that generates useful information for decision-making. 

Forest fires, pollution, respiratory and cardiovascular diseases

The effects of climate change can be augmented depending on the physical and chemical characteristics of air pollutants and climatic properties such as temperature, humidity, and precipitation. This combination of factors defines the residence time of pollutants in the atmosphere. These pollutants can be transported over long distances, for example when they encounter high temperatures and low humidity. The Observatory has demonstrated that pollutants associated with the climatic conditions can aggravate cases of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.

Most studies relating levels of air pollution to human health have focused on metropolitan areas, such as the large capitals of the Southeast. These studies highlight the ‘particulate matter’ among the most harmful pollutants: a mixture of suspended particles  that can reach the respiratory tract due to its tiny size, damaging the gas exchanges (BRAGA, A. L. F., 2001). Thus, the conclusion of the analysis is clear: exposure to particulate matter increases morbimortality due to cardiovascular and respiratory causes.

Researchers at the National Observatory on Climate and Health have looked at the fires in the Brazilian Amazon, which represent about 60% of the particulate matter emitted into the country’s atmosphere. These substances contribute to altering the chemical composition of the atmosphere, which means they influence the new climate configuration on a global scale. Studies on the health effects of pollution in the Amazon only began in 2005 with the intense drought that occurred in the western Amazon.