Cardiovascular and Respiratory Health Effects of 2006/2007 Bushfire Smoke in Victoria

Presentation at Research Forum of the 2012 Bushfire CRC and AFAC Annual Conference.

Introduction: More frequent and intense bushfires are projected in Australia as a result of climate change. The 2006–07 Victorian bushfire season was one of the most extensive. The main aim of this study is to investigate the association between particulate matter (PM) due to bushfire smoke and cardiorespiratory health effects in the rural and urban Victorian communities.

Methods: Time stratified case cross over study design is used to assess the association between bushfire smoke particulate matter and health outcomes. Daily counts of cardiorespiratory hospital admissions, emergency department visits and out of hospital cardiac arrests (OHCAs) data have been collected for the study period January 2006-December 2007. Air exposure data has also been analysed for the study period using the newly developed air quality models by CSIRO Marine & Atmospheric Research.

Results: Initial data analysis for the 06-07 bushfires in Melbourne have shown that an interquartile range increase in PM10 (11.7µg/m3) resulted in an increase of OHCAs risk of 6.57% (95% CI 0.42, 13.11). Further analysis on bushfire smoke and health outcomes in Victoria are currently being conducted with results to be presented at the conference meeting.

Conclusion: This study could have major public health implications. It will advance the understanding of the health impacts of bushfire smoke in the community and most importantly allow for targeted evidence based advice to the clinicians and policy makers on the measures required to implement appropriate preventive strategies.

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