Seed Grants Awarded - 2013

Development of CAR education workshops (Christine Cowie and Guy Marks, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research)
We will develop and run two workshops for CAR researchers and students as well as invited guests from government agencies, other research institutions and industry. The workshops will be held to coincide with visits to Sydney from two overseas experts, Professors Bert Brunekreef (The Netherlands) and Ross Anderson (United Kingdom), who are scheduled to visit in September 2013.

Land use regression modelled NO2/NOx and the CAPS cohort (Christine Cowie and Guy Marks, Woolcock Institute of Medical Research)
This project will allow completion of a model for estimation of traffic-related air pollution in the south west of Sydney. This modelled data will be used to test for associations between exposure to traffic-related air pollution and respiratory and cardiovascular effects in an established cohort of children. It focuses on development of a technique called land use regression to estimate exposure to nitrogen dioxide and nitrous oxides as markers of traffic-related air pollution. It mirrors work being conducted internationally in this field and uses existing health data from the Sydney-based CAPS cohort.

Clearing the air in rural communities: an intervention study (Fay Johnston, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania, and Geoff Morgan, University Centre for Rural Health)
Many regional centres experience extremely poor air quality during winter months from excessive emissions of smoke from wood heaters. This source of air pollution has been clearly associated with exacerbations of heart and lung diseases including asthma, otitis media, and lower respiratory tract infections. Reducing emissions form wood heaters can be achieved through careful operation but this requires all users to be well educated and motivated to ensure optimal operation of their heaters. Inexpensive technology has been developed to reduce emissions for individual wood heaters without requiring any change in the operation of the heaters. This project will evaluate the utility of using this technology to reduce community-wide air pollution.

Novel statistical models to quantify the burden of air pollution on human mortality within Australia and Asian-Pacific region (Yuming Guo and Gail Williams, University of Queensland)
Air pollutants are an environmental factor contributing to an unacceptable gap in human health. Systematically assessing the burden of air pollution on deaths in different countries is crucial for developing early intervention strategies. Excess deaths related to air pollution can be easily understood by the general public and used by policy makers for public health education and intervention planning. The aims of this project are to develop Bayesian statistical models to estimate the burden of air pollution on human deaths in four Asia-Pacific countries: Australia, New Zealand, Thailand and China. This project will create fundamental knowledge and cutting-edge research methodologies.

Estimating the Australian burden of disease due to air pollution (Lidia Morawska, Queensland University of Technology)
Air quality, including tobacco smoke, household air pollution from solid fuels and ambient particulate matter, plays a significant role in the global decrease of life expectancy. Australia’s geography, demographics and economy are such that global or regional (Australasia) summaries may not represent the full picture for Australia. This project estimates the expected decrease in life expectancy both from, and the effect on birth outcomes of, individual and society-level sources using the most up to date information from the Global Burden of Disease study

Traffic-related air pollution in Australia: the effect on asthma development, persistence and lung function in a prospective birth cohort up to 18 years (Caroline Lodge and Shyamali Dharmage, University of Melbourne)
Our research addresses the question of whether traffic-related air pollution is a risk factor for asthma and less lung growth in children. Using information about exposure to traffic pollution during childhood, we will investigate the risks of developing asthma in the long-running Melbourne Atopy Cohort Study. Additionally we will investigate whether exposure to traffic pollution encourages these diseases to persist. We will also investigate whether children who have been exposed to traffic pollution have less growth of their lungs. Last, we will consider whether particular genes make children more vulnerable to these risks.