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Haze and health impacts in ASEAN countries: a systematic review
- Logaraj Ramakreshnan, Nasrin Aghamohammadi, Chng Saun Fong, Awang Bulgiba, Rafdzah Ahmad Zaki, Li Ping Wong, Nik Meriam Sulaiman
- Environmental science and pollution research international 2018 v.25 no.3 pp. 2096-2111
- asthma, children, databases, elderly, emissions, epidemiological studies, human physiology, laboratory experimentation, mental health, models, morbidity, mortality, neoplasms, planning, pollutants, risk, systematic review, throat, time series analysis, toxicity, South East Asia
- Seasonal haze episodes and the associated inimical health impacts have become a regular crisis among the ASEAN countries. Even though many emerging experimental and epidemiological studies have documented the plausible health effects of the predominating toxic pollutants of haze, the consistency among the reported findings by these studies is poorly understood. By addressing such gap, this review aimed to critically highlight the evidence of physical and psychological health impacts of haze from the available literature in ASEAN countries. Systematic literature survey from six electronic databases across the environmental and medical disciplines was performed, and 20 peer-reviewed studies out of 384 retrieved articles were selected. The evidence pertaining to the health impacts of haze based on field survey, laboratory tests, modelling and time-series analysis were extracted for expert judgement. In specific, no generalization can be made on the reported physical symptoms as no specific symptoms recorded in all the reviewed studies except for throat discomfort. Consistent evidence was found for the increase in respiratory morbidity, especially for asthma, whilst the children and the elderly are deemed to be the vulnerable groups of the haze-induced respiratory ailments. A consensual conclusion on the association between the cardiovascular morbidity and haze is unfeasible as the available studies are scanty and geographically limited albeit of some reported increased cases. A number of modelling and simulation studies demonstrated elevating respiratory mortality rates due to seasonal haze exposures over the years. Besides, evidence on cancer risk is inconsistent where industrial and vehicular emissions are also expected to play more notable roles than mere haze exposure. There are insufficient regional studies to examine the association between the mental health and haze. Limited toxicological studies in ASEAN countries often impede a comprehensive understanding of the biological mechanism of haze-induced toxic pollutants on human physiology. Therefore, the lack of consistent evidence among the reported haze-induced health effects as highlighted in this review calls for more intensive longitudinal and toxicological studies with greater statistical power to disseminate more reliable and congruent findings to empower the institutional health planning among the ASEAN countries.