News and events in 2021
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CAR's federal election priorities
17 December, 2021
CAR has released its federal election priorities for safer air and calls on all political parties to commit to six actions that will reduce the harmful human health impacts of air pollution.
Distinguished Prof Lidia Morawska awarded as the first
CASANZ Honorary Fellow
6 December, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Distinguished Professor Lidia Morawska, has been awarded as the first Honorary Fellow of the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ).
CASANZ President, Francine Manansala, said the award recognises Prof's Morawska's outstanding dedication to improving human health through better air quality.
We congratulate Distinguished Professor Morawska for this exceptional and deserving award.
A/Prof Geoff Morgan awarded the CASANZ 2021 Clean Air Achievement Award
1 December, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Associate Professor Geoff Morgan, has been recognised for his significant contribution to achieving improvements in the quality of the air environment by receiving the CASANZ 2021 Clean Air Achievement Award. This award was received in honour of Nick Agapides, who was instrumental in establishing the NSW Air Emissions Inventory. We congratulate Associate Professor Morgan for receiving this highly deserved award.
Quantifying air pollution at early childhood and education care centres
1 December, 2021
CAR researchers have published a study quantifying children's exposure to particulate matter while at early childhood and education care centres. The study, conducted in Perth, found that exposure to indoor and outdoor air pollution was significantly higher in high traffic areas compared with low traffic areas. Peaks in air pollution also corresponded with times when children were most likely to be outside.
Quantifying the health benefits of urban greening strategies
19 November, 2021
CAR researchers have published a study using innovative methods to quantify the benefits of urban greening and associated adaptation strategies. Using the Heat Health Impact method, they estimated the change in the number of deaths attributable to urban greening and found that heat attributable deaths reduced up to 11.7 per day across the greater metropolitan region of Sydney.
Launch of the National Air Pollution Monitoring Database (NAPMD)
12 November, 2021
CAR is proud to announce the launch today of the National Air Pollution Monitor Database (NAPMD), for research and non-commercial use.
NAPMD is the first Australian standardised air pollution monitor database. NAPMD is a fantastic resource for researchers wishing to map and model air pollution across the country and they can now obtain the data in a standardised format from one database location for the first time.
Congratulations to the CARDAT team for their incredible efforts in developing this critical tool.
Prof Guy Marks awarded 2021 Australasian Epidemiological Association Mentorship Award
25 October, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Professor Guy Marks, has been recognised for his outstanding contribution to mentoring early career researchers in the fields of Epidemiology, Biostatistics or related disciplines. For his commitment, Professor Marks was awarded the 2021 Australasian Epidemiological Association Mentorship Award. We congratulate Professor Marks for receiving this highly deserved award.
MJA-Lancet Countdown on climate change and health
21 October, 2021
CAR researchers have been involved in the latest report card on climate change and health in Australia. The article, published in the MJA today, provides an overview of progress on climate change and health in Australia against several indicators across five broad domains: climate change impacts, exposures and vulnerability; adaptation, planning and resilience for health; mitigation actions and health co‐benefits; economics and finance; and public and political engagement.
The report finds that efforts achieved at the subnational level have not been matched at the national level, with further ambition required to address climate-related health impacts.
Join CAR experts for a Health Impact Assessment workshop
20 October, 2021
On Wednesday 8 December from 9am-2pm (AEDT), CAR will host a Health Impact Assessment (HIA) workshop. The workshop will present worked examples of HIA calculations using real world data inputs and discuss the interpretation of results including strengths and weaknesses. The workshop is primarily for students, research and policy makers looking to understand the building blocks for conducting their own quantitative HIAs, or improving their understanding of HIA methods and results. Registration for the workshop is currently open.
An association between exposure to air pollution and hospital admissions in Sri Lanka
30 September, 2021
CAR researchers have investigated the links between exposure to air pollution and hospital admissions for lung-related diseases in Sri Lanka. The study found an increase in asthma hospitalisations during higher air pollution periods, with people over 65 years old more likely to be hospitalised.
2021 Lung Health Legend Awards: Congratulations Professor Guy Marks and Professor Michael Abramson
25 September, 2021
CAR Chief Investigators, Professor Guy Marks and Michael Abramson have been recognised for their outstanding contribution to lung health on World Lung Day. As individuals who have significantly contributed to their field, Professor Marks and Professor Abramson were recognised by their peers and the Lung Foundation Australia's Board of Directors as having made a positive impact on the lives of Australians living with or impacted by lung disease or lung cancer. Congratulations to Professor Marks and Professor Abramson on their achievements!
Media Release: CAR welcomes the release of new air quality guidelines by the World Health Organization
23 September, 2021
CAR researchers have welcomed today the release of new air quality guidelines from the World Health Organization. The guidelines recommend new air quality levels to protect the health of populations, by reducing levels of key air pollutants, some of which also contribute to climate change.
CAR Chief Investigator, Professor Lidia Morawska, was instrumental in the development of the guidelines as Co-Chair of the Guidelines Development Group.
CAR supports a joint statement from societies around the world calling on governments to align national standards with the new WHO air quality guidelines.
Numerous CAR members awarded NHMRC grants
15 September, 2021
Several CAR researchers have successfully secured grants during the 2021 NHMRC grant round.
Congratulations to the following CAR researchers on their successful grant outcomes:
Prof Yuming Guo: New knowledge and research capacity for health impacts of global environmental change with big data, novel approach and new technology
Dr Dinh Bui: Reducing the burden of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD): novel phenotypes, risk factors and biomarkers
A/Prof Caroline Lodge: Identifying and addressing preventable causes of asthma over the lifespan
Dr Shandy Li: Health risk assessment of bushfire smoke on children and pregnancy outcomes
Clinical Trials and Cohort Studies grants
Prof Shyamali Dharmage, Prof Michael Abramson, Dr Jennifer Perret, Dr Dinh Bui and A/Prof Caroline Lodge et al.: Providing translatable evidence to advance prevention and management of COPD: a longitudinal study from the 1st to 7th decade of life
Centre for Research Excellence
Prof Guy Marks: BREATHE - mitigating airborne threats to health
TIME 100 Most Influential People of 2021: Congratulations Professor Lidia Morawska!
15 September, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Professor Lidia Morawska, has been recognised by TIME as one of the most influential people of 2021. As Scott Gottlieb, former United States Commissioner of Food and Drugs writes, "Lidia Morawska stands out among peers for her work in recognizing the importance of aerosol transmission and marshaling the data that would convince the World Health Organization and other authoritative bodies to do the same."
Congratulations to Professor Morawska on her well-deserved recognition!
Interpersonal violence and hot weather
10 September, 2021
CAR researchers have called for further research on the relationship between interpersonal violence and hot weather. Preliminary research indicates an increase in some violent crimes as temperatures increase. Further research is needed to understand why violent behaviour is associated with temperature and how to reduce the risk of violence as temperatures increase.
Daily health costs of bushfire smoke and prescribed burning smoke in NSW
10 September, 2021
CAR researchers have modelled the daily health costs associated with wildfire smoke (WFS) and prescribed burning smoke (PBS) in New South Wales between 2000 and 2020. The study found that there are substantial health costs associated with both types of smoke, in general larger for wildfires ($1653 million (82·1%)) than for prescribed burns ($361 million (17·9%)). Nevertheless, the estimated per hectare costs were higher for PBS ($477) than for WFS ($104).
Association between bushfire smoke and hospital admission in Brazil
10 September, 2021
CAR researchers have investigated the association between bushfire smoke and hospital admissions in Brazil between 2000 and 2015. The study found an association between short-term exposure to bushfire smoke and an increased risk of hospital admission, particularly in children and the elderly.
10 September, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Prof Lidia Morawska, and colleagues have released a video explaining the risks of poor indoor ventilation and calling for action on better ventilation in public spaces.
Association between bushfire smoke and death
10 September, 2021
CAR researchers have been involved in an investigation of the association between bushfire smoke and death across 43 countries between 2000 and 2016. The study concluded that short-term exposure to bushfire smoke increases the risk of death.
International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies
7 September, 2021
Today is the United Nations' International Day of Clean Air for Blue Skies. This year's theme is "Healthy Air, Healthy Planet".
There is no 'safe' level of air pollution.
OzSAGE is now live
3 September, 2021
As Australia grapples with how to reopen following lockdown, CAR Chief Investigators have been involved in the development of an expert online resource.
OzSAGE is designed for governments and business, health, education, community and non-government agencies in Australia. OzSAGE members have expertise in public health, infectious diseases, epidemiology, Aboriginal health, engineering, the built environment, occupational hygiene, behavioural and social science, multicultural engagement, communications, law, data science, public policy and economics.
Improving air quality in the classroom
19 August, 2021
CAR Affiliate, Associate Professor Donna Green, has written an article for The Conversation on the importance of air purifiers with HEPA filters for classrooms to reduce both smoke- and virus-related particles. Because they can remove of 99% of tiny particles, air purifiers are already being used in other parts of the world as a cost-effective strategy to reduce the risk of airborne hazards to schoolchildren.
The health costs of wood heater smoke in Armidale
9 August, 2021
Two Chief Investigators of CAR, Prof Fay Johnston and A/Prof Geoff Morgan, have co-authored with colleagues a health impact assessment of wood heaters in Armidale, Sydney. They estimated that wood heater smoke pollution is responsible for 14 premature deaths a year and a cost of $32.8 million. They argue that effective policies are needed to reduce wood heater smoke pollution and their impacts in Armidale.
An alternative model for the AAQ NEPM
11 August, 2021
To accompany CAR's position paper on "no 'safe' levels of air pollution", CAR researchers have developed a brief that identifies potential alternatives for the current National Environmental Protection (Ambient Air Quality) Measures (AAQ NEPM). The proposal suggests a continuous reduction approach as opposed to a thresholds-based approach to air pollution reduction, to better protect the health of all Australians.
Reducing the health impacts of wood heaters in Australia
9 August, 2021
Wood heater smoke significantly contributes to air pollution in Australia, impacting the health of many Australians.
Current approaches to mitigate the risk that wood heater smoke poses to human health are inadequate. In this new position paper from CAR, several policy options are proposed to help reduce wood heater smoke to protect the health of vulnerable Australians. Professor Fay Johnston, from the University of Tasmania's Menzies Institute for Medical Research, led the development of the paper and said, "It's time to put in place measures to address the problem."
Managing airborne infection transmission
26 July, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Professor Lidia Morawska, has written an article for The Conversation that identifies key gaps in the current strategy to reduce the impact of COVID-19. Professor Morawska argues that protection against airborne infection transmission in indoor spaces is a critical consideration for any successful strategy going forward, and presents a roadmap to address this consideration going forward.
Particulate matter and premature death
19 July, 2021
CAR Chief Investigator, Professor Shyamali Dharmage, has published with colleagues a systematic review on the association between ambient particulate matter and premature mortality. Results from the review determined that 253 premature deaths per million population are associated with PM2.5 exposure.
Predicting methane emissions from landfill using machine learning techniques
14 July, 2021
New research involving CAR affiliates on modelling methane emissions from landfill has been published. Municipal waste produces methane - a potent greenhouse gas - as it decomposes. Machine learning techniques were used to estimate methane generation from landfill following three years of data collection from two pilot landfills. Three intelligent models were used for the first time to predict methane generation, demonstrating the potential for machine learning techniques to predict future methane generation.
The global health burden of hot and cold temperatures
9 July, 2021
CAR researchers have been involved in modelling the health burden of cold and hot temperatures around the world between 2010-2019 to determine the impact of temperature on death rates. Their study found that a substantial number of deaths - over 5 million annually - can be attributed to extreme temperatures, accounting for almost 10% of all deaths globally. The findings from the study can be used by governments around the world in preparing for weather-related health impacts in a changing climate.
Associations between ambient particulate air pollution and cognitive function in Indonesian children
9 July, 2021
Researchers from CAR collaborated with colleagues based at Universitas Indonesia to investigate associations between ambient particulate matter levels in forest fire-prone areas and cognitive function in Indonesia children. Using data from the Indonesian Family and Life Survey, the authors found that children living in a forest fire-prone area for a prolonged period of time negatively impacted cognitive function in children after adjusting for individual factors.
COVID-19 lockdown impacts on air quality in Sri Lanka
5 July, 2021
CAR researchers have assessed the change in particulate matter and carbon monoxide concentrations as a result of the COVID-19 lockdown in Sri Lanka. Based on data collected prior to and during the lockdown period, significant declines of daily average concentrations were recorded. The results demonstrate the impact of vehicle and industrial emissions on air quality in Sri Lankan cities.
Green space around primary schools may improve students' academic performance
15 June, 2021
CAR researchers have found that urban greenery can improve children's academic performance, while air pollution from traffic can be detrimental. By investigating the average 2018 NAPLAN scores of children from 851 schools across greater Melbourne, the study found that the NAPLAN scores of children from comparable schools were higher in greener areas. Results from the study can help planners to identify the best locations and surrounding environments for future schools.
Investigating black carbon emissions in cities
9 June, 2021
Researchers affiliated with CAR have examined the concentrations of black carbon (BC) in Tehran, Iran using high-resolution analysis techniques. They found that exposure to BC is predominantly a result of city-level emissions, even in locations with high-emitting industrial sources. Further analysis determined that city-scale emissions also contribute to expanding pollution plumes.
A review of ambient air pollution and health impacts in Australia
8 June, 2021
Researchers affiliated with CAR have reviewed the literature on ambient air pollution in Australia and associated health impacts. Of the 72 studies included in the review, the vast majority (64) investigated short-term health impacts of air pollution, while eight studies investigated long-term air pollution-related health impacts. The findings of the review provide an evidence-base for future policies on air quality in Australia.
Reducing energy consumption and carbon emissions in neighbourhoods
28 May, 2021
Recent research published by members of CAR investigated the carbon emissions and energy demand associated with three types of residential neighbourhoods. The study determined that increasing the amount of renewable energy in the energy mix and retrofitting and renovating old buildings presented key opportunities to substantially reduce energy demand and emissions in future.
Policy Implications for Protecting Health from the Hazards of Fire Smoke
26 May, 2021
CAR researchers have published a paper detailing key findings from an expert panel discussion at a symposium on landscape fire smoke held in October 2020. The discussion focused on the efficacy of current health protection interventions, the protection of outdoor workers, and the communication of air quality and health risk. Recommendations with policy implications were presented.
A paradigm shift to combat indoor respiratory infection
14 May, 2021
A new article led by CAR researchers has been published in the prestigious journal, Science. The article calls for a paradigm shift in the way that we manage respiratory infections. Importantly, formal recognition that infections often occur through airborne transmission has significant implications for the way we think about indoor spaces and design buildings. Creating flexible ventilation systems in buildings that can maintain airborne infection risks at acceptable levels is critical. The authors present several recommendations for a practical path forward.
How effective are HEPA cleaners during smoke events?
20 April, 2021
CAR researchers recently assessed the effectiveness of portable high efficiency particulate air (HEPA) cleaners during a prolonged smoke event. HEPA cleaners were installed in the main library in Port Macquarie between August and October 2019. The library contained substantially better air quality compared with outdoor air quality when HEPA cleaners were operating.
Links between exposure to air pollution and sensitivity to allergens in children
14 April, 2021
CAR researchers investigated links between exposure to air pollution and sensitivity to common allergens in children. They found that increasing exposure to nitrogen dioxide was associated with greater sensitisation to house dust mites. This is the first national study to evaluate associations between nitrogen dioxide and children's sensitivity to allergies.
Air quality thresholds do not adequately protect Australians
8 March, 2021
According to CAR researchers the current mechanism for setting air quality thresholds in Australia does not adequately protect community health. The standards provides only partial health protection and adversely impacts community perceptions by implying that the current standards represent a ‘safe’ level of exposure.
The Role of Traffic-Related Air Pollution on Neurodegenerative Diseases in Older People
15 February, 2021
CAR researchers have conducted a review on the role that traffic-related air pollution may play in neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease. Current research has provided mixed findings and longer-term studies are needed to confirm the levels of risk and other contributing environmental factors. Better understanding of these relationships will help inform the development of preventive measures and reduce chronic cognitive and physical health burdens (cost, quality of life) at personal and societal levels.