Seed Grants Awarded - 2017

Towards integrated forecasts of pollen and smoke exposure: a Tasmanian pilot of the CSIRO CTM.
Lead researchers: Grant Williamson, Fay Johnston, Amanda Wheeler, Martin Cope

Access to accurate, spatially-specific pollen and pollution information can greatly assist individuals with conditions such as asthma and hayfever to better manage their conditions. Current methods allow pollen and pollution levels to be estimated in real time, but depend on costly and intensive monitoring, and have limited capacity to produce scientifically valid forecasts. This project will trial a highly promising approach to pollen and pollution forecasting, utilising an innovative type of atmospheric model. Ultimately, this type of modelling has the potential to help reduce the health impacts of these atmospheric hazards by providing the public with accurate, cost-effective short-term forecasts.

Which exposure assessment approach is best suited to Australian epidemiological studies?
Lead researcher: Luke Knibbs

Outdoor air pollution was the 5th leading risk factor for death globally in 2015. Australia is fortunate to have relatively clean air, but because all Australians are exposed to air pollution and there is no safe level of some pollutants, it is still a key environmental risk to health. Australian teams are actively researching this topic, but are constrained by sparse air pollution measurements. In this study, we will determine which cutting-edge methods to overcome this limitation are likely to be most useful to health researchers. We will make recommendations that we hope will advance the research agenda in Australia.

Estimating air pollution exposure and its health effects in China.
Lead researcher: Shanshan Li

This study will estimate spatial and temporal variation of NO2 concentrations in China using satellite remote sensing, meteorology, and land use and road information, with flexible generalise additive model allowing for dynamic spatiotemporal variation. This will be the first study to estimate historical levels of NO2 with satellite remote sensing in China which is an improvement in exposure assessment. The modelled NO2 data can be used for health effect studies.

Does low-dose aspirin prevent adverse health outcomes attributable to particulate matter exposure – a feasibility study. Lead researcher: Gavin Pereira

Aspirin is potentially one of the most effective preventive and cost-effective ways to delay the onset of heart disease, stroke and possibly delay declines in cognitive function. One of the largest international trials on the preventive health benefits of low-dose aspirin is underway in Australia. Low-dose aspirin and a placebo were randomised to more than 16,000 older adults. The negative effects of air pollution on health has been established internationally and observed in Australia. Sources include bushfires, vehicle emissions and industrial activity. We are interested in whether low-dose aspirin reduces the harmful effects of air pollution on health and wellbeing.

Knowledge scoping of research into the health co-benefits of transitioning from current energy sources to cleaner energy. Lead researcher: Christine Cowie

This project will provide crucial information on the current evidence of the health co-benefits of moving from fossil fuel energy sources to cleaner sources of energy, as applicable to high income countries like Australia. We will also describe the current state of play of the various Australian government, industry and research agencies and significant overseas agencies, doing work in this area. This project will help inform the incoming CRE’s health based research in this area by providing a solid background, and identifying gaps in the knowledge base.