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“Landscape Fire” Air Pollution Hits African Nations Hardest

A new study of the global presence of landscape-fire air pollution (PM2.5 particles and ozone) in 2000–2019 found that its “population weighted” concentrations were highest in certain African nations.

According to the study’s authors, a landscape fire is any fire in “natural and cultural landscapes, for example natural and planted forest, shrub, grass, pastures, agricultural lands and peri-urban areas.” This includes both wildfires and planned or controlled fires.

Landscape Fire in Africa
  1. According to the study, the African continent had the highest average number of days exposed to substantial fire-sourced air pollution (SFAP) per person per year (32.5 days per person per year during 2010–2019), “despite a significant decrease since 2000–2009.”

  2. Europe, on the other hand, had the lowest average number of days exposed (about 1 day per person per year).

  3. Asia had the greatest annual population size exposed to at least 1 day of SFAP (803.1 million people per year during the period 2000–2019, or 36.8% of the global total).

  4. The five nations with the highest in population-weighted average fire-sourced concentrations of PM2.5 were the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), the Central African Republic, Angola, Congo, and Zambia.

  5. The five nations with the highest annual average number of days exposed to SFAP per person were Angola, DRC, Zambia, Congo, and Gabon (each over 115 days per year during the period 2010–2019)

  6. Notably, globally, the US rose from eighth in the total number of exposed people in 2000–2009, to second in 2010–2019.

  7. The authors concluded that billions of people were exposed to substantial landscape fire smoke (LFS) air pollution, with the exposure levels being highest in several “hotspots” (Central Africa, Southeast Asia, South America, and Siberia).


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