THE correlation betweensmoke pollution and people’s health will be investigated by the University ofTasmania.
A $440,000 grant will fund UTAS researchers to investigate health concernscaused by smoke from bushfires, woodheaters and planned burn-offs.
Professor David Bowman said the project aimed to identify a compromise for thedifferent stakeholders involved in fire management and public health.
“There are two sides to this issue. The public health stakeholders whodon’t want people getting sick from smoke, and the fire management side, whorecognise the need for burn-offs,” Prof Bowman said.
“People need to be healthy, but at the same time people need to be able toburn off to stop the threat of major fires.
“We want to rank the concerns of each side with real evidence that wegather, so that a reasonable compromise can be met.”
Prof Bowman said his previous research in Darwin had shown that bushfire smokecorrelated with a rise in hospital admissions for asthma.
“The effects of smoke are usually forgotten about in discussions ofbushfires,” he said. “The 2003 Victorian mega-fires caused the airquality levels to rise to unacceptable levels in Melbourne for several weeks.
“With global warming drying out southern Australia, there are going to bemore of these mega-fires causing problems.”
Prof Bowman said government agencies were supportive of the research and wouldassist researchers with data.
The four-year project, funded by the Australian Research Council’s LinkageProject Scheme, will gather results from Hobart, Launceston, Western Australiaand New South Wales.