Amazon Fires and the Impact on Public Health: What the Data Tells Us

Amazon Fires and the Impact on Public Health: What the Data Tells Us

The Amazon Rainforest fires dominated international headlines a few months back, and the sad truth is that while the news stories have slowed and been pushed from the headlines, the fires have not stopped burning.

Brazil’s National Institute for Space Research reports that the number of fires through September 2019 is up nearly 50 percent from the same period in 2018, and experts agree this crisis will have global repercussions. 

The causes of the fires are varied and range from environmental to political. There has been national and international criticism about President Bolsanaro’s environmental policies as he has prioritized the use of the Amazon Rainforest for economic benefit rather than conserving the biodiverse landscape. He has also been a vocal skeptic of climate change. In addition to the government actions, cattle ranchers are intentionally setting many of the fires to clear forested areas to make room for more grazing lands for cattle or farming. 

These most recent megafires in the Amazon Rainforest spread smoke for thousands of miles, even all the way to Brazil’s largest city, São Paulo. We wanted to check in with our Premise users in the region to learn how the fires were impacting their daily lives and to better understand the sentiment of the Brazilian people. 

We developed and put out a Premise Data survey to our vast network of Premise Contributors in Brazil. In just a few days, more than 3,000 Contributors from Rio De Janeiro, Sao Paulo and the rest of the country responded to our survey. Survey topics ranged from questions about Brazilian politics to public health.

Here are some of the interesting insights we learned:

First and foremost, there has been a massive impact on public health. When asked how the fires have affected their lives, 63.27% of all respondents said the fires affected their health. Our Contributors reported that their health was impacted more than their work, personal assets or location. This response parallels other research findings. According to the Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) – from 2002 through 2009, wildfires accounted for $578 million in total health care costs and will continue to rise.


When asked about the cause of the fires, Premise Contributors overwhelmingly believe that climate change has a role to play – 80% of respondents agree that climate change has played a role in accelerating the strength of forest fires, with 43% strongly believing that fact.

Our respondents in Brazil also overwhelmingly (91%) believe that the Amazon Rainforest should be protected from deforestation practices, with 92% stating they think President Bolsonaro should act to stop the Rainforest fires, something he has been reluctant to do so far.

It’s a common practice for farmers to set these rainforest fires to create more room for grazing and agricultural businesses, and our respondents were somewhat split in their agreement with the practice, with 56% not agreeing with the practice and 36% considering it acceptable. 

One of the most interesting findings from our survey, and something that environmental activists will likely capitalize on, is that a majority of respondents (65%) stated that the recent Amazon Rainforest fires have changed their outlook about protecting the rainforest.

When the smoke clears and this fire season comes to an end we hope to check back in with our Premise Contributors in the region to determine if public health has improved, if sentiment on deforestation practices shift, and what the current environmental outlook is. 

Beyond our network in Brazil, Premise has an army of smartphone users across the globe taking pictures and contributing information about their communities to help solve countless issues and inform global decisions. Premise is currently collecting ground-level data for NGOs, local governments and consumer brands in 70+ countries. Our vast network of smartphone users also allows us to execute campaigns quickly and efficiently – garnering thousands of responses in days. 

Based on an organization’s specific data needs, we create a data acquisition campaign to crowdsource the needed information, either on the ground or virtually. Premise’s Global On-Demand Data Services are used for both broad, regional data collection as well as in highly specialized industry-specific applications. 

If you are interested in learning more about our Sentiment and Survey solution and how we can help you get the ground-level data you have been looking for click here. Ready to get started on your own data collection campaign? Contact us at

*All respondents were Brazilian users ranging from over 16 years of age to under 55 and smartphone owners. The survey was conducted exclusively through the Premise Data mobile app. Demos: Gender – Male (61.7%); Female (38.3%); Age – Under 16 (1.8%), 16-25 (40.93%), 26-35 (36.86%), 36-45 (16.3%), Age – 46-55 (3.1%) Age – 55+ (1%); Geography – Rural (11.27%), Suburban / Peri-Urban (29.47%), City Center / Metropolitan (59.26%)