Australia — A Tasmanian academic warns smoke generated from forest regeneration burns could pose a worse outcome for human health than pollution from car exhausts.
Fay Johnston, a respiratory health researcher with the Menzies Institute, has begun a four-year study on the health effects of wood and bushfire smoke.
The study will take in Tasmania, Western Australia as well as towns and cities in New South Wales.
Dr Johnston says smoke pollution has a detrimental effect for many people.
“In the limited amount of studies that have been done so far that have directly compared smoke from fires with the same level of particulates and smoke from car exhaust, industry have all tended to show that the effects from the wood smoke are actually worse for lung conditions than a similar amount from, say, car exhausts,” she said.
Dr Johnston hopes the findings will result in clear guidelines for all stakeholders.
“I’m hoping at the end of our four-year research period that we’ll have much clearer evidence about the relative public health harm of smoke from all these different sources and the relative public health benefit of reducing fuel loads,” she said.
“Recognising that comes at a cost and then we might be in a position to be able to advise on guidelines.”