Families needed for study of bushfire smoke and health

12 September 2023

South East Queenslanders living near bushland and green spaces are being encouraged to join a University of Queensland study on the health impacts of bushfire smoke.

Dr Dwan Vilcins from the UQ Child Health Research Centre said the study aimed to help protect communities in the future.

“We are calling on volunteers to register their interest in participating in the study, with a preference for families with children aged between 5 and 18,” Dr Vilcins said.

“Researchers will use the register to formally recruit study participants when local councils confirm a planned burn close to their home, or when bushfire smoke is affecting air quality in their area.

“Households that sign up will be asked to monitor the air quality in their home so we can understand if it worsens during these events.”

Researchers will also investigate how household characteristics enable air pollutants to contaminate indoor air. 

Dr Vilcins said bushfire smoke can cause health issues including reduced lung function and shortness of breath.

“Bushfire smoke caused around 2,000 respiratory hospitalisations and 1,300 asthma emergencies in Australia during the Black Summer bushfires of 2019-2020,” she said.  

“Our aim is to better understand the impact of bushfire smoke exposure, particularly on children, so that we can help improve community wellbeing through environmental research and policy reform.

“The devastating fires that recently destroyed large parts of Canada, Greece and Hawaii emphasise the significance of our research in helping to protect communities now and in the future.”

Households in the Brisbane, Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Redland, Logan City and Gold Coast council regions interested in participating in this study can register via this link.