Seed Grants Awarded - 2014

The Hazelwood coal fire: Identifying the cohort at risk of long term impacts due to their very young age at exposure (Fay Johnston, Menzies Research Institute Tasmania)
In February 2014 there were several bushfires and a coal fire in the Latrobe Valley. This study aims to find out if smoke from these fires influenced the number of respiratory infections experienced by young babies over the following year. Respiratory infections are common in babies and can cause coughs, runny noses and sore ears. It is not known if periods of exposure to smoke from outdoor fires will increase the chance of acquiring these. Finding out about this will help doctors and health officials manage future severe smoke episodes. Children from Moe and Morwell born from 31 March 2012 up until 31 October 2014 will be eligible to participate.

Assessing the short-term effects of air pollutants on blood pressure in adults: a community-based cohort study (Yuming Guo and Gail Williams, University of Queensland)
China is experiencing more and more days with serious air pollution. Assessing the effects of air pollution on blood pressure is crucial for developing early intervention strategies. The aim of this project is to estimate the effects of air pollution on blood pressure using a community-based cohort study. This project will create fundamental knowledge in the relationships between air pollutants and blood pressure. The findings will be used by policy makers for public health education and intervention planning.

The health impacts in the Sydney greater metropolitan region of shipping emissions (Geoff Morgan, University Centre for Rural Health)
Air pollution emissions from shipping in coastal regions and ports in Australia and the effects of these emissions on air quality and human health in nearby urban region is of growing importance because the high sulphur content of fuels is known to lead to increased emissions and secondary production of fine particles which have been identified as hazardous to human health. The collaborative project between CAR, the Australian Maritime College, CSIRO, NSW Health, and the USEPA brings together recent data on shipping-related emissions in Australia and developments in air pollution modelling to estimate the health impacts in Sydney due to shipping-related PM.

Gene-environment interactions of the effects of ultrafine particulate air pollutants from traffic on respiratory health: UPTECH – genetics (Guy Marks and Wafaa Ezz, Woolcock Institute for Medical Research)
There is growing evidence of an adverse relationship between traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) and respiratory health outcomes. Genetic factors appear to play an important role in susceptibility to the effects of air pollution on respiratory outcomes, and a number of studies have suggested increased vulnerability to air pollutants in children with compromised antioxidant defences. We will genotype samples from a study of respiratory health in children attending primary schools in Brisbane (UPTECH) allowing us to extend previous investigations of gene-environment interactions to include the effects of genes variants in modifying the consequences of exposure to ultrafine particles.

Pilot study: Evaluation of the effectiveness of current public health messages to reduce exposure to smoke from bushfires or planned burns (Martine Dennekamp and Michael Abramson, Monash University)
Exposure to smoke from bushfires or from planned burns, is a significant and increasing health problem in Australian communities. The most common public health message to reduce exposure to smoke is to remain indoors, turn on the air conditioner or use an air purifier. There is limited information available on the effectiveness of any of these measures and this proposal aims to collect pilot data to address this gap in knowledge by measuring air pollutant concentrations in- and outside houses during smoke episodes and measure the effects on lung health.

Do genes modify the risk of asthma associated with traffic related air pollution? (Melanie Matheson and Shyamali Dharmage, University of Melbourne)
This project addresses the question of whether particular genes modify the relationship between traffic-related air pollution (TRAP) exposure and risk of asthma. Using information about exposure to TRAP during childhood we will examine the development of asthma and decline in lung function over time using the Tasmanian Longitudinal Health Study (TAHS) that has been running since 1968, with participants now in their 40s.