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The World in Medicine
September 11, 2002

Asian "Brown Cloud"

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JAMA. 2002;288(10):1226. doi:10.1001/jama.288.10.1226

A huge cloud of pollution stretching over large parts of South Asia that is affecting regional climate and weather patterns is also posing a health risk to the more than 1 billion people living in the area, according to a report released last month by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).

The 2-mile-deep mass of ash, acids, aerosols, and other particles "is the result of forest fires, the burning of agricultural wastes, dramatic increases in the burning of fossil fuels in vehicles, industries, and power stations and emissions from millions of inefficient cookers burning wood, cow dung, and other ‘biofuels,'" said Klaus Toepfer, PhD, UNEP's executive director.

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