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March 2018

Using smartphone technology to reduce health impacts from atmospheric environmental hazards

F H Johnston , A J Wheeler , G J Williamson , S L Campbell, P J Jones , I S Koolhof , C Lucani ,NB Cooling and D M J S Bowman

Environ. Res. Lett. 13 (2018) 044019

What did the study find?

The study looked at the first 22 months of operation of the “AirRater” smart phone app. This app allows people to upload their symptoms from hay fever and other lung conditions at the same time as access smoke, pollen and, temperature conditions across Tasmania and ACT. In this way it can help people manage their conditions by working out what environmental conditions trigger their symptoms, as well as receiving alerts when these triggers are elevated. Part of the study looked at user evaluation via online surveys and found that AirRater was useful to people and improved their understanding of environmental conditions that affect their health and promoted them to use their medication at the right rime.  

Why does it matter?

We know that climate change is making environmental hazards such as air pollution, pollen and extreme weather events worse. Apps such as AirRater are important in allowing people to understand how these hazards affect them and when they can best be avoided. But evaluation of new apps is important. Understanding what is working and how it can be improved to better serve populations is key. This is especially the case since the use of AirRater (currently only in Tasmania and ACT) will now be trialed in other parts of Australia. AirRater is also providing useful data for future scientific investigations looking at the links between environmental conditions and the health of populations.

CAR members involved in this study

  • Fay Johnston

  • Amanda Wheeler

  • Grant Williamson

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