Seed Grants Awarded - 2012

Does living near a major road increase the risk of having chronic respiratory symptoms? (Melanie Matheson and Shyamali Dharmage, University of Melbourne)
Exposure to air pollution is an important risk factors for asthma and other chronic respiratory diseases (CRDs). The effects of air pollution on asthma have been well ¬studied in children, in contrast, there are fewer studies in adults and the results are less consistent. The Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) is the world’s only family-based longitudinal study that spans childhood to adulthood. This study provides a unique opportunity to investigate the relationship between environmental factors such as air pollution on the risk of developing asthma and other CRDs in adults followed from childhood into adulthood.

A land use regression (LUR) model for ultrafine particles in Brisbane (Lidia Morawska, Queensland University of Technology)
This project will produce a novel land-use regression (LUR) model of ultrafine particles across the metropolitan Brisbane area. LUR is an emerging modelling technique that describes pollutant concentrations over space, based on measured concentrations at a number of fixed points. The International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health (ILAQH) at QUT has been measuring ultrafine particle concentrations near-continuously across numerous sites in Brisbane since 1995 and possesses a data collection that is world-leading. The proposed study seeks to fully capitalise on this unique resource and harness its many untapped potential applications in addressing questions relevant to Environmental Health and Epidemiology.

Older People Air Pollution Study (Bin Jalaludin, University of New South Wales)
The broader aims of the Older Peoples’ Air Pollution Study are to investigate, in an older Australian population (aged 65+ years), associations between urban air pollution and health. This pilot study will investigate the feasibility of using data linkage to determine whether long-term exposure to ambient air pollution leads to increased respiratory and cardiovascular disease mortality and morbidity, such as emergency department visits and hospitalisations.

Biomass smoke, air quality and health outcomes (Fay Johnston, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania)
Australia faces major challenges in bushfire management. Burning under controlled conditions is used to reduce the risk of dangerous fires but community opposition to this is common, often due to concerns about potentially serious health harms from air pollution. Robust evaluation of the risks to public health is lacking and addressing this gap is the core aim of this project. Drawing from an extensive real-time smoke monitoring network in Tasmania, ambulance databases, and using advanced statistical techniques, we will assess the acute health impacts of smoke exposure for a range of time periods (1–24hrs). The results will provide evidence for guiding planned burning operations to protect community health.

Cardiac and respiratory health effects of exposure to air pollutants from prescribed/ planned burning (Martine Dennekamp, Monash University and Fay Johnston, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania)
This project will investigate the health effects of smoke from prescribed burning. We will recruit participants from outer suburban locations where planned fuel reduction burns will be conducted. Levels of fine particles less 2.5 thousandths of a millimetre in diameter (PM2.5) will be measured. Participants will complete symptom diaries for 2 weeks. Their lung function and blood pressure will also be measured. Blood will be collected and levels of proteins associated with inflammation and clotting measured. The data will show whether levels of PM2.5 are related to these health outcomes and provide information on the safety of planned burns

Investigating gene-environment interactions of the effects of air pollutants on respiratory health (Guy Marks and Christine Cowie, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research)
It is thought that genetic factors play an important role in the susceptibility of individuals to the effects of air pollution on respiratory outcomes. This project will use genetic material collected from existing cohorts to study six genes involved in the glutathione metabolism and oxidative stress pathways (such as GSTM1, GSTP1, ADBR2 and NQO1), and their interaction with air pollutants from traffic and unflued gas heaters, and their effect on lung function, current asthma and respiratory symptoms. We hypothesise that specific candidate genes interact with air pollutant exposures to increase the likelihood of adverse respiratory outcomes.

NO2 and NOx sampling in Western Sydney for development of a land use regression model (Guy Marks and Christine Cowie, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research)
The aim of this work is to collect data on ambient concentrations of nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and nitrogen oxides (NOx) for use in a land use regression model to estimate NO2 and NOx exposure in western and south-western Sydney. NO2 and NOx are often used as markers for traffic-related air pollution (TRAP). While there are a number of methods of assigning exposures to (TRAP), land use regression is thought to be the most valid for estimating spatial variation in pollutant levels, particularly for NO2 and NOx which decrease rapidly with distance to roads.