06/22/2013, 00.00
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Not just Singapore: environmental pollution reaches alarming levels in Asia

Vast areas of the continent are suffocated by smog. In the city-state it has exceeded the threshold of "potential threat" to health. And they are running out of masks. Women, children and the elderly at risk. In 2010, about 3.2 million premature deaths in the world, of which 2.5 million people in China and India.

Singapore (AsiaNews / Agencies) - For the third consecutive day the rate of detection of pollutants (Psi) in Singapore remains around the critical threshold of 400, constituting a "potential threat" to the lives of sick and elderly. Jakarta has deployed helicopters and air-tanks in an attempt to put out the fires that are devastating large areas of forests of Sumatra. Compounding problems the gradual reduction in emergency masks, stocks of which are now running out and supplies slow in arriving. Initial investigation shows that palm oil companies from Indonesia, Malaysian and Singapore are behind the fires.

The smoke and smog alarm in Southeast Asia confirms once more the severity of air pollution, a continent-wide problem that affects hundreds of millions of people in Asian cities. Those who suffer most are children, the elderly and pregnant women, as well as people with heart disease and respiratory diseases.

The governments in Jakarta and Singapore have launched a series of talks to resolve the emergency. The meetings are focusing on how to fight the fires that continue to devastate entire portions of the forest on the island of Sumatra, causing devastating repercussions in the city-state and in neighboring Malaysia. .

The environmental crisis in Singapore is just the latest in a long series of critical problems that have characterized the continent of Asia in recent months. In January, Beijing experienced a slump in air quality, an increase equal to 20% of hospital admissions for respiratory crisis. In August 2012 Hong Kong reached the highest levels ever for as environmental pollutants. "The levels [of pollution] in some areas of China, India and other parts of Asia are astronomically high," points out Bob O'Keefe at Health Effects Institute (HEI). He adds that today it is a clear "threat" that "has been underestimated for too long."

According to studies by the Global Burden of Disease, in 2010 there were at least 3.2 million premature deaths worldwide caused by smog and air particles. In China and India alone, "there are about 2.5 million victims." Experts warn that the number of deaths in China grew by a third over the last 20 years and is growing in parallel on a global scale, the number of underweight babies, a factor also linked to environmental problems.


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