Bushfire smoke: urgent need for a national health protection strategy

Sotiris Vardoulakis, Bin B. Jalaludin, Geoffrey G. Morgan, Ivan C. Hanigan, Fay H. Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalEditorial

53 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

Bushfires have always been a feature of the natural environment in Australia, but the risk has increased over time as fire seasons start earlier, finish later, and extreme fire weather (ie, very hot, dry and windy conditions that make fires fast moving and very difficult to control) becomes more severe with climate change.1–3 The 2019–20 bushfires in Australia, particularly in New South Wales, Victoria, Queensland and the Australian Capital Territory, have caused at least 33 fatalities, extensive damage to property and destruction of flora and fauna, and have exposed millions of people to extreme levels of air pollution. Bushfire smoke, as well as smoke from prescribed burns, contains a complex mixture of particles and gases that are chemically transformed in the atmosphere and transported by the wind over long distances.4 In this context, a major public health concern is population exposure to atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter < 2.5 μm (PM2.5), which can penetrate deep into the respiratory system, inducing oxidative stress and inflammation,5and even translocate into the bloodstream
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-353
Number of pages6
JournalMedical Journal of Australia
Volume212
Issue number8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020

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