Extreme Hydrological Events and their Impacts on Children’s Respiratory Health in the Legal Amazon
Smith, Lauren Teresa
Thesis or dissertation
University of Exeter
The majority of climate-health impacts are the result of extreme climatic events. In the Amazon region, hydrological extremes have become more frequent in recent years. Evidence exists about how these hydrological extremes affect the forest itself, yet little information is available on the impacts on human health. Hospitalisations for respiratory diseases are the leading cause of hospitalisations, excluding pregnancy related causes, for both Brazil, and the Brazilian Amazon. It has been shown elsewhere that during drought events and periods of intense fires there are statistically significant associations with respiratory health. Despite the increase in hydrological extremes and high rates of deforestation and fires observed annually in the Legal Amazon, there are limited studies linking such events and respiratory health. The lack of explicit spatial understanding about these connections restrains the ability of policymakers to plan and implement regional mitigation and adaptation policies in order to cope with predicted effects of climate change in the Amazon, one of Brazil’s poorest regions. Thus, this thesis explores the impacts of three large hydrological extremes: the 2005, and 2010 droughts and the 2009 flood, on children’s respiratory health in the Legal Amazon. The research is two-fold; firstly to establish how the extremes and associated human disturbance impact respiratory health in the region. A Geographically Weighted Poisson Regression is adopted which allows for local spatial data analysis to identify any relationships between selected variables and children’s respiratory health throughout the Legal Amazon. The second part explores local communities’ knowledge of respiratory health and the links to the environment which has assisted in creating recommendations to cope with respiratory health and environmental problems in the Legal Amazon.
PhD in Geography