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Impact of bushfire smoke exposure on respiratory health

Project Member(s): Hansbro, P., Paudel, K., Dharwal, V.

Funding or Partner Organisation: Maridulu Budyari Gumal - The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) (Maridulu Budyari Gumal - The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise)
Maridulu Budyari Gumal - The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise (SPHERE) (Maridulu Budyari Gumal - The Sydney Partnership for Health, Education, Research and Enterprise)

Start year: 2020

Summary: The incidence of bushfires and wildfires is increasing globally. Changing climate conditions (e.g. rise in mean maximum temperature, low rainfall), dry vegetation during summers, and strong winds make the Australian landscape increasingly prone susceptible. During 2019-20, bushfires burned many forested regions of Australia in all states. Bushfire smoke (BFS) is a complex mix of inhalable particles, volatile organic compounds and carbon monoxide. During bushfires, people with chronic respiratory diseases (e.g. asthma, COPD/emphysema) are most affected by BFS, resulting in increased hospitalization. However, the impacts or safe exposure levels of BFS are not known. We aim to address critical questions: 1. how does BFS affect respiratory health? 2. what are the impacts of different components of BFS on the lungs? 3. how does BFS alter disease-causing pathways in different cell types? 4. define the most effective treatments that suppress the effects of BFS We will apply our extensive expertise in respiratory disease to examine the effects of BFS. We have methods for assessing lung inflammation and structural changes that can be used to assess the effects of BFS. We have exposure and analysis facilities that enable us to expose human respiratory cells and mice to BFS and its components and to measure lung function. This enables us to define the impact of the BFS on different cell types, particularly cells lining the lung and immune cells that play key roles in inflammation and damage in the lungs. The changes in critical structural and immune cells with BFS exposure will be assessed, and the most effective preventions/treatments defined. Also, the outcomes will assist authorities to define safe exposure guidelines and take preventive measures. We will fill the evidence gaps related to harmful health effects of hazardous BFS exposure and help to develop policies to deal with future BFS events.

FOR Codes: Cardiovascular medicine and haematology, Respiratory diseases , Cardiorespiratory Medicine and Haematology, Respiratory Diseases, Respiratory System and Diseases (incl. Asthma), Clinical health