KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has refuted a Harvard and Columbia University study, claiming that the 2015 South-East Asian haze had caused 6,500 deaths in the country.
The study, which is expected to be published in the Environmental Research Letters (ERL) journal, also claims that there have been 100,300 premature deaths in the region from the haze; 91,600 in Indonesia and 2,200 in Singapore.
The numbers vastly contradict the official count, which only reported 19 deaths in Indonesia and none in Malaysia and Singapore.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran was sceptical of the findings of the study.
“No such thing!” he said when contacted Monday about the paper.
“We had no deaths last year directly related to the haze,” he added.
He said the Ministry had done a study on suspended particulate matter in the air from open burning and its effects on the human body, and found that apart from irritable symptoms, no grave health risks were likely.
“Of course we had increased number of conjunctivitis and respiratory track infection but its mostly due to the fact that some haze contained sulpher dioxide and nitric oxide which comes from the burning of fossil fuel,” he said.
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