May 1, 2016

Experts join forces to clear Australia’s air

IMG_0850Leading Australian experts have joined forces to establish an alliance including academics, doctors, lawyers and the Lung Foundation to tackle the unseen and often poorly understood impact of air pollution on health in Australia. The first National Air Quality and Health meeting took place in February in Melbourne and highlighted the challenges in effectively communicating research findings on the health effects of air pollution to the general community. Outcomes from the meeting included agreement to develop a position statement on air quality and respiratory health; to conduct a retrospective study of lung cancer and air quality; and to develop an expert group for rapid media response.

Lung Foundation Australia CEO Heather Allan said one of the key outcomes of the alliance was the move to better connect the many pools of knowledge already available on the health effects of air pollution. “People under-appreciate the impact of air pollution because they don’t see smog hanging over their heads or smell smoke as they wait for the bus, yet the quality of our air affects all of us.”

Australian Institute of Health and Welfare research showed more than 3,000 deaths each year were attributable to air pollution1. In Sydney alone, air pollution is responsible for about $8.4 billion in health costs a year.2

References

  1. Begg, Vos, Barker, Stevenson, Stanley & Lopez, The burden of disease and injury in Australia 2003, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, Cat. no. PHE 82, Canberra (2007), p234
  2. Department of Environment and Conservation (NSW), Air Pollution Economics: Health Costs of Air Pollution in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan Region, Sydney (2005), p43