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Investigating how clean energy could improve child health in Fiji

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30 November 2018

CAR investigators visited Suva recently for the official start of a project investigating the impact of air pollution on the health of young children in Fiji and how to minimise this impact.

Local combustion sources (domestic, agricultural and solid waste burning) and transport are the major contributors to air pollution in Fiji. The project, led by Professor Lidia Morawska from QUT, is assessing how transition to clean energy would lower the burden of childhood disease in Fiji.

Professor Morawska and postdoctoral fellow Dr Tom Cole-Hunter visited Suva along with associate investigator Professor Paul Jagals, from the University of Queensland.

The investigators brought six KOALA (Knowing Our Ambient Local Air-quality) sensors to Suva, including four outdoor stationary and two wearable units. They tested connections to the Data Management Centre and the GPS.

The local team is piloting their use, while the project applies for ethical clearance for the main part of the study on exposure in children.

In other news for this project, CAR researchers were involved in an inaugural stakeholders’ workshop was conducted recently with representatives from the Fijian Ministries of Health and the Environment, the WHO, the University of New South Wales and the University of Oxford. The workshop, on assessing environmental health risk and impact of air pollution in Pacific Island Countries, led to the establishment of a consortium of key players.

Professor Morawska said energy transition was discussed as a road to eliminating air pollution. “Measuring pollution exposure measurement is the first step in this process,” she said.

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Above: Dr Tom Cole-Hunter (front, right) explains the use of the KOALAS; below: participants in the stakeholders' workshop. 

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