Malaysia: Satellite Workshop Summary Report

Satellite Workshop Summary Report

The Impacts of Transboundary Haze Pollution
of the 1997/98 Fires Episode on Health

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 27 October 1998

A collaboration between
University Putra  (UPM) and
Global Change Impacts Centre for Southeast Asia (IC-SEA)

Prepared by Dr Daniel Murdiyarso (IC-SEA) and Dr Ramdzani Abdullah (UPM)


Transboundary pollution in Southeast Asia is largely associated with land-use management where the use of fire for land clearing is widely practiced by both large-scale resource managers and smallholder farmers. The existing policies does not discourage the use of fire for removing the “wastes” or internalise the environmental externalities of the haze resulted. Moreover, fires may have been used as weapon to occupy the land whenever the tenure systems does not secure land ownership.

In the second half of 1997 and early 1998 large areas of Southeast Asia were blanketed with smoke from fires or “haze”. Most of the haze originated from fires burning in Sumatra and Kalimantan, Indonesia. Apart from the immediate impacts of fires and haze on people, livelihoods and biodiversity in Indonesia, the transported haze has also had a significant impact on health including in the neighbouring countries, especially in Singapore and Malaysia. The transboundary haze problem has a strong temporal component being associated with droughts during dry ENSO events. Although ENSO cannot be considered as the cause of fire, it has enhanced the provision of dry biomass fuels to burn and suppression of the haze when the inversion layer in the atmosphere is formed.

The haze produced by vegetation fires consists mainly of fine particulate matter in the respirable range, which can be transported to a great distance. To lesser extent, the haze also contains carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are transported in relatively short distance where high concentration of population is often found. During the 1997/98 haze episode measurements and long-term monitoring of haze quality have been carried out. Rapid assessment on health impacts has also been organised by various agencies, including national government, international organisations and NGOs.

It is necessary, therefore to draw readily available information and in order to not only examine the health impacts but also to address the necessary policy responses. Economic consequences may give a better indicator of the overall impact for public policy making processes.

This workshop is part of a series of activities organised by the Global Change Impacts Centre for Southeast Asia (IC-SEA) in collaboration with Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM). The other parts of the series are Satellite Workshops organised in Canberra (July 1997), Nakhon sri-tammarat, Thailand (October 1998), and the 1st Synthesis Workshop held in Bogor (August 1998). The second Synthesis Workshop will be organised in Indonesia (December 1998) in collaboration with the World Bank, followed by an ASEAN Forum to be held in March 1999.


  • To draw information on haze quality and health impacts collected during 1997/98 fire episode
  • To assess emergency responses procedures before, during, and after haze episode
  • To provide scientific and policy community the best possible way to interact for the improvement in the public policy-making processes


08.30 – 09.00: Registration
09.00 – 09.30: Opening Remarks

  • Deputy Vice Chancellor, UPM
  • Programme Head, IC-SEA

09.30 – 10.00: Coffee Break
10.00 – 11.00: Introductory Talks (Chairman: Prof Dr Muhamad Awang)

  • Dr D. Murdiyarso: The overall plan and progress
  • Dr Ramdzani Abdullah: Today’s activity

11.00 – 12.45: Causes, Consequences and Responses (Chairman: Dr D. Murdiyarso)

Haze Chemistry and Transport Mechanisms

1. Ms. Angelika Heil: Haze Chemistry and Transport Mechanisms
2. Assoc. Prof. Dr Wan Md. Zin b. Wan Yunus: Characterisation of Haze Particles

Health Impacts

3. Dr Yudanarso Dawud: Respiratory Impact of Haze from Vegetation Fire
4. Dr Hamdan M. Noor : Haze and Health: Malaysian Experience

Consequences and Responses

5. Assoc. Prof. Dr Mohd. Nasir b. Hassan : The Damage Costs of Haze Episode in Malaysia
6. Dato Dr Abu Bakar b. Jaafar: Institutional Issues and Policy Responses

General Discussion

12.45 – 14.00: Lunch
14.00 – 15.30: Parallel group discussions (Chairmen: 1. Dr Hamdan M. Nor 2. Dato’ Dr Abu Bakar Jaafar)

  • How serious was the 1997 fire impacts on health?
  • What are not known and how to gather data/information?
  • How the damage can be internalised in economic terms?
  • What are the most urgent policy responses that can be identified and need to be addressed?

15.30 – 15.45: Tea Break
15.45 – 16.30: Plenary and synthesis discussions (Chairman: Prof. Dato’ Dr Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman)
16.30 – 17.00: What next and Concluding Remarks

Causes, Consequences and Responses

In order to introduce the presentation the chairman gave an overview, which emphasises the following issues:

  • The 1997/1998 fire episode (and probably others) is more than just forest fires
  • Fires have been part of land-use management
  • Fires that were used as tool have caused too much haze in the wrong time and the wrong place
  • Fires were also used as weapon where land tenure and ownership were not secured
  • Banning fire is NOT possible
  • Quick and simple fixes may not last to solve the problems
  • Market-based instruments that give incentives should be created to minimise the production and maximise the utilisation of the wastes

1. Haze Characteristics and Transport Mechanisms (Angelika Heil)

The presentation covered the definition of haze, properties of haze (TPM, PM10, PM2.5) and stability of the atmosphere. Air quality standards (USEPA PSI, ambient air quality standard) were also reviewed with regards to the haze properties. Particle concentration (TPM in various stations in Sumatra and Kalimantan, and PM10 in Singapore and Kuala Lumpur) during June-December 1997 were also reported.

The episode of land and forest fires in Indonesia during late 1997 were also overviewed, sourcing various agencies including IFFM-Ministry of Forestry GoI, NOAA.

The transport mechanisms were discussed in the light of the regional wind pattern at 915 m above se level as observed by meteorological service in Indonesia, BMG, ozone concentration as observed by TOMS during September 1997. Windroses analysis from stations in Sumatra was employed by combining them with mean and maximum TPM concentration. Further, there was an effort to explore the possibility of employing haze dispersion model developed by Monash University, Australia.

2. Characterization of Haze Particles (Wan Md. Zin)

Haze definition was also given with different meaning as indicated in the first paper. This presentation which was based on a field work also attempts to predict reaction mechanisms.

Among the main findings is that more than 20 elements were detected. There was a high concentration of potassium which indicates that the source of the particulate is wood burning. It was also noticed that large fraction of the crustal element mass was coarse particles, while typical element produced by combustion process have most mass in fine particles. Eleven species of PAH were collected before, during and after haze episode. Statistical analysis of the data also suggests that the 1997 haze is due to long-range transport of pollution.

3. Respiratory Health Impacts from Vegetation Fires (Yudanarso Dawud)

It was reported that around 12.4 million Indonesian in 8 provinces of Riau, West Sumatra, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan, South Kalimantan, and East Kalimantan were at risk during the 1997/1998 haze episode from vegetation fires. Among them 298,125 were bronchial asthma patients, 58.095 bronchitis, and 1,446,120 acute respiratory infection. It was also reported that the number of outpatients was 36,462, the number of in-patient was 15,822, the number of man-days with restricted activity was 4,758,600 and the number of disability adjusted work was 2,446,352.

To extract the data from the provincial health reports was not an easy task, since the format and quality of data were not standardised. A survey carried out by the Association of Indonesian Pulmonologists in West Kalimantan, where the TPM during the haze episode (last week of September 1997) was 7 times higher than its normal level indicated that all of the respiratory-related cases (acute respiratory infection-ARI, bronchial asthma, and bronchitis) increased substantially. Similar surveys were also conducted in Palembang and Samarinda, the capital cities of South Sumatra and East Kalimantan respectively.

4. Haze and Health: Malaysian Experience (Hamdan M. Noor)

Although gaseous pollutants were not significantly different compared to normal days, the major haze contaminant was suspended particulate. Therefore the related health impacts were attributed by suspended particulate and the duration of exposure.

An intensive study conducted in the Klang Valley, Malaysia Peninsula was reported. Since the respiratory system is directly exposed to air pollutants, the study was focused on the lung performance. Among pollutant indicators CO, NO2, SO2, O3 and PM10 were discussed. The gaseous pollutants remained below the Recommended Malaysian Guidelines (RMG), while the PM10 was away beyond the unhealthy level during most of September day’s at all six stations.

The study also revealed the Air Pollutant Index (API) in Sarawak in association with the main symptoms of respiratory diseases like conjunctivitis, upper respiratory tract infection (URTI), bronchitis, and asthma. It was shown that the incidence of these diseases are closely related to the PM10 concentration.

Furthermore, the study also shown the sprometric values (FVC, FEV1, FEF25-75) that indicate airway obstruction of various occupational groups, are associated with exposure to high PM10.

The study also concluded that although the impacts of haze on health is detrimental, one should not overly worried because it occurred sporadically and the effect seemed to be reversible.

5. The Damage Costs of Haze Episoode in Malaysia (Mohd Nasir Hassan)

Among other impacts of the 1997/1998 haze episode is the economic damage accounted for air, sea and land transportation, tourism, and agro-based industries. The environmental disaster also substantially increased the incidence of respiratory diseases. By quoting the economic short-term damage costs estimated by EEPSEA (1998), the study attempted to calculate long-term economic impacts of haze on health. Using the World Bank’s TSP dose-response model. The estimated health cost due to TSP exposure in 1997 haze episode was RM 431 million (US $ 168 million) when premature death were included and RM 108 million when premature death was excluded. Among health effects measured were mortality, asthma, bronchitis, respiratory hospital admission (RHA), emergency room visit (ERV), and restricted activity days (RAD). This figure is far higher than EEPSEA short-term health damage estimate of RM 20 million.

It is worth noting that the economic loss estimated by EEPSEA was US $ 1.38 billion, in which US $ 310 million (RM 794 million) were incurred in Malaysia, US $ 63 in Singapore, and US $ 1,012 million in Indonesia. The loss in Malaysia included the economic damage and the abatement costs, such as fire fighting, monitoring and enforcement activities.

The study also overviewed the total economic value (TEV) which is an environmental benefit concept that measures the society’s ‘willingness to pay’ in monetary terms. TEV consists of use value (UV) and non-use value (NUV). The UV itself is broken down into direct use value (DUV), indirect use value (IUV), and option value (OV).

6. Institutional Issues and Policy Responses (Dato Abu Bakar bin Jaafar)

Linkages within fire assessment and management policy objectives were discussed for each country in the region in the light of local and external sources of haze pollution. Emphasis was given to the self-regulatory policies. Laws and regulations in one hand together with air quality standard and monitoring on the other hand are key elements in strengthening the institutions involved.

The most common policy objective of the region is to prevent and control fire and haze. Indonesia has set itself a higher set of policy objectives by introducing the development aspects of its policy which emphasise on land conversion targets at sustainable level. Strict prohibition of open burning, however, has been introduced by most countries in the region, except Indonesia.

On the assessment aspect of the policy framework, most countries except Indonesia have given importance to the need for ambient air monitoring. This is considered as basic assessment function to determine the source of haze and the health hazards. On the management aspect, greater need is shown on the introduction of legal and institutional arrangements at both national and regional levels. Capability and capacity in fire fighting is a common area for regional cooperation. To lesser extent an easy access to information should be made to the public.

Emergency response mechanisms were discussed with regards to the periods before, during, and after the haze episode.

General Issues Discussed

Haze characteristics and development

  • Common definitions of haze, smoke, and pollutants are needed
  • Common parameter(s) used as pollution indicator(s) are needed. There are several parameters discussed including TPM, PM2.5, PM10, CO, SO2, NO2, and O3
  • PM10 is generally acceptable and can be implemented widely
  • API and PSI need to be revisited as pollution indices and more common and standardised parameter(s) are needed for comparison purposes
  • What about visibility?
  • Other sources of pollutants can be screened
  • The role of the atmospheric aerodynamics to transport pollutants need to be explored further

Impacts on Health

  • Concentration of particulate matter and duration of exposure are more significant than gaseous compound as far as human health is concerned
  • Further study need a more specific respondent grouping based on occupation, gender, and age class
  • Outdoor vs indoor observations also need further quantification
  • Separate analysis is needed to differentiate between acute and chronicle impacts
  • Respiratory diseases and lung function are the main health impacts

Economic consequences and Policy responses

  • Total economic value (TEV) concept is needed to measure the ‘willingness’ of the society to pay the environmental damage in monetary terms
  • The costs should consist of damage and abatement costs
  • Differentiation between short-term and long-term damage due to exposure to the pollution is needed
  • Economic loss of biodiversity has not been explored and need guidelines to measure
  • It is necessary to evaluate the trade-off of various policy objectives
  • Institution strengthening is needed to encourage the interaction between land-use and health policies
  • Emergency responses that are going to be taken (before, during and after the episode) depends on the institution strength and the clarity of the legal aspects

Parallel Group Discussions

The groups were charged to discussed four questions described in the programme. Apparently the questions were grouped into two. The first group discussed the first two questions and the other one discussed the last two questions.

Report from Group 1

  • The seriousness of the health impacts was discussed in terms of acuteness, however a long-term studies, such as cohort study is necessary
  • In order to get good data the methodologies (field, laboratories, instrumentation) should be improved and enhanced
  • Parameters needed to assess environmental quality and health hazards include PM2.5, PM10, TSP, SO2, CO, NO2, O3, and volumetric organic compounds.
  • Dose-related long-term effects on health are widely unknown
  • Priority may be given to occupational hazard, disaster plan, and re-assessment of haze effects

Report from Group 2

On the questions of internalisation of the external cost of haze impacts, the group came up with two possible policy options:

Voluntary basis

An insurance scheme in land clearing activities may be set up in order to certify the operators before getting the permit to clear the land. The Haze Risk Insurance Scheme (H-RIS) is proposed to arrange the premium structure. This market-based scheme is expected to create pressure groups (in cooking oil companies, logging industries etc.). Therefore, the nature of this option is private and deals with private sectors.

Mandatory basis

Another option is that the land clearing activities should be ISO 14000 certified. The nature of this option is public and closely linked with the global market systems.

Future Directions

Although we know many aspects of haze-related issues, there are still so many aspects that we do not know, some of them are urgently needed to know. Meanwhile, we still need to verify our understanding of the haze-related issues with regards to policy objectives at both national and regional levels. Our confidence depends on our spirit to improve ourselves in various areas. Collaborations, partnership and exchange of information should be our common efforts.

The role of IC-SEA is to provide fora where group of scientists and policy-makers can get together at various events to fine tune our understanding, reduce the gaps that we still have and improve our motives to share our resources for the sake of the well-being of the society and enhancement of our natural environment.

As part our series of activities interaction with other groups at national and international level will be continued through electronic conference, international .working group meetings and forum at ASEAN level.


1 Prof Dr. Karnel Ariffin Mohd Atan Timbalan Naib Canselor, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 2 Dr. Lim Joo Tick Pengarah, Jabatan Pewrkbidmatan Kajicuaca, Jalan Sultan, 46667 Petaling Jaya, Selangor Darul Ehsan. 3 Dr. Ahmad Aminuddin Jabatan Perhutanan, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 4 Dr. Mohd Nazeri Salleh Kolej Pe~tanian, Kuala Terengganu, Terengganu. 5 Hazilawati Hamzah Fakullti Kedektoran Veterinar dan Sains Penternakan, Universiti Putla Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 6 Thouraya Ali Pusat Pengajian lanjutan 7 Dr. Ling Kin Hong Malaysian Medical Associatron (MMA), Tingkat 4, Bangunan MMA, 124, Jalan Pahang, 53000 Kuala Lumpur 8 Wan Faizal Jabatan Alam Sekitar Wilayah Persekutuan 9 M. Tarmuzi Mat Nor Jabatan Alam Sekitar Selangor 10 Dr. Ahmad Makmom Abdullah Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia. 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D E. 11 Marzuki Ismail Jabatan Fizik, IJniversiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 12 Dr. Noordin Mohd Mustapha Fakulti Kedokteran Veterinar den Sains Penternakan, Universiti Putra Malaysla, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 13 Chung Yoon Foo Ketua Pengarah, Jabatan Pengangkutan Jalan, Blok A, Kompleks Pejabat Damansara, Jalan Dungun Damansara Heights, 50620 Kuala Lumpur. 14 Md. Yazid Md. Saman Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 15 Siti Mazlina Mustapa Kamal Jabatann Kejuruteraan Kimia dan Alam Sekitar, Fakulti Kejuruteraan, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 16 Che Nor Aize Jaafar Jabatan Kejuruteraan Mekanikal dan Pembuatan, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 17 Faridah Mohamad Jabatan Biologi, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 18 Azhar b. Nordin Kementerian Sains, Teknologi dan Aiam Sekitar, Tingkat 14, Wisma Sime Darby, Jalan Raja Laut 50662, Kuala Lumpur. 19 Dr. Hamdan Nor Jabatan Biologi, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 20 Ptof. Dato’ Sheikh Omar Abdul Rahman Dekan Fakulti Kedokteran Veterinar dan Sains Penternakan. Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 lJPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 21 Prof. Madya Dr Wan Zin Wan Yunus Timbalan Dekan, Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 22 Dr. Dzulkifly Kuang Abdullah Jabatan Kimia, Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 23 Dr. Yudanarso Dawood MOH-Republik Indonesia 24 Dr. Mohd. Zaizi Desa Jabatan Kimia, Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 25 Dr. Mohd. Zaki Jabatan Kimia, Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 26 Jimat Bolhassan Malaysian Center for Remote Sensing (MACRES) 27 M. Shahrul Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 28 Norhayati Mustapha ISIS-Malaysia 29 Salini bt. Osman Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 30 Choo Wan Yuen Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 31 Dr. Mastura Mahmud Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Bangi, Selangor D.E. 32 Lailan Syaufina Fakulti Perhutanan, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 33 Dato’ Dr. Abu Bakar Jaafar Alam Sekitar Malaysia (ASMA) 34 Angelika Heil GTZ 35 Dr. Daniel Murdiyarso IC-SEA, Bogor 36 Dr. Che Fauziah Jabatan Sains Tanah, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 37 Prof. Dr. Muhamad Awang Dekan Fakulti Sains dan Pengajian Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 38 Prof. Madya Dr. Mohd. Nasir Hassan Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 39 Dr. Ramdzani Abdullah Ketua Jabatan Sains Alam Sekitar, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E. 40 Prof. Madya Dr. Shahwahid Hj Othman Jabatan Ekonomi Sumber Asli, Universiti Putra Malaysia, 43400 UPM Serdang, Selangor D.E.



Print Friendly, PDF & Email
WP-Backgrounds Lite by InoPlugs Web Design and Juwelier Schönmann 1010 Wien