World Health Organization (WHO)

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    World HealthOrganization (WHO)


Human-caused and natural wildfires in forests and other vegetation as well as land-use fires occur in many parts of the world. Smoke from vegetation fires consists mainly of fine particulate matter in the respirable range and to a lesser extent, of carbon monoxide and polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, which are not generally relevant to the long distance transport of air pollutants. During the episode of smoke in the South East Asian countries, monitoring of particulate matter of mean aerodynamic diameter at or below 10 micrometers has shown that short-term air quality standards of WHO´s 1987 air quality guidelines for respirable particulate matter are largely exceeded.

The WHO therefore became active in three major planning meetings aimed to prepare programmes and guidelines which will contribute to prevent and manage disasters caused by smoke from vegetation fires and to mitigate their effects on human health:

On 6 November 2001 the WHO and the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry, representing the Global Fire Monitoring Center (GFMC), signed a Letter of Agreement (LoA) on collaboration in joint research and training related to the reduction of vegetation fire smoke impacts on human health.

Bibliographic Information on the Health Guidelines:

WHO/UNEP/WMO 1999a Health Guidelines for Vegetation Fire Events – Guideline document. D. Schwela, J.G. Goldammer, L. Morawska, O. Simpson (Eds.) United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, World Health Organization, Geneva, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Institute of Environmental Epidemiology, WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Epidemiology, Ministry of the Environment, Singapore (ISBN 981-04-1460-9)

WHO/UNEP/WMO 1999b Health Guidelines for Vegetation Fire Events – Background Papers.

Kee-Tai-Goh, D. Schwela, J.G. Goldammer, O. Simpson (Eds.) United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, World Health Organization, Geneva, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Institute of Environmental Epidemiology, WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Epidemiology, Ministry of the Environment, Singapore (ISBN 981-04-1460-9)

WHO/UNEP/WMO 1999c Health Guidelines for Vegetation Fire Events – Teachers’ Guide. D. Schwela, L. Morawska, Abu Bakar bin Jaafar (Eds.) United Nations Environment Programme, Nairobi, World Health Organization, Geneva, World Meteorological Organization, Geneva, Institute of Environmental Epidemiology, WHO Collaborating Centre for Environmental Epidemiology, Ministry of the Environment, Singapore (ISBN 981-04-1460-9)

The Guidelines, the Background Papers and the Teacher’sGuide have been posted on the WHO homepage: http://www.who.int/docstore/peh/Vegetation_fires/vegetation_fires.htm


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