The signature of Protocolo Agroambiental in 2007 deeply affected the adoption of mechanical harvesting of sugarcane in São Paulo State, Brazil. Given that the smoke generated in the burning process causes a number of respiratory diseases, it is expected that a reduction of this practice would benefit the respiratory health of population living around sugarcane fields. The main goal of this paper was to estimate if the increase in mechanical harvesting is effectively improving the respiratory health of this population. In order to reach this objective, we made estimations using data of the area using mechanized harvesting in São Paulo State municipalities from 2006 to 2011, as well as data about the hospitalization related to respiratory problems in this period. Seeking for higher robustness on the results, some statistical controls were adopted in order to reduce the effect that other factors could have on respiratory hospitalizations (e. g. meteorological, geographical and socioeconomic variables). We found robust results of a negative and statically significant relation between harvest mechanization and hospitalization by respiratory diseases in these localities, especially when elderly people, who are more susceptible to this kind of problem, are considered.


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