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Health impacts of ambient biomass smoke in Tasmania, Australia

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Borchers Arriagada, N ORCID: 0000-0001-8973-5692, Palmer, AJ ORCID: 0000-0002-9703-7891, Bowman, DMJS ORCID: 0000-0003-2215-7685, Williamson, GJ ORCID: 0000-0002-3469-7550 and Johnston, FH ORCID: 0000-0002-5150-8678 2020 , 'Health impacts of ambient biomass smoke in Tasmania, Australia' , International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, vol. 17, no. 9 , pp. 1-19 , doi: 10.3390/ijerph17093264.

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Abstract

The island state of Tasmania has marked seasonal variations of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) concentrations related to wood heating during winter, planned forest fires during autumn and spring, and bushfires during summer. Biomass smoke causes considerable health harms and associated costs. We estimated the historical health burden from PM2.5 attributable to wood heater smoke (WHS) and landscape fire smoke (LFS) in Tasmania between 2010 and 2019. We calculated the daily population level exposure to WHS- and LFS-related PM2.5 and estimated the number of cases and health costs due to premature mortality, cardiorespiratory hospital admissions, and asthma emergency department (ED) visits. We estimated 69 deaths, 86 hospital admissions, and 15 asthma ED visits, each year, with over 74% of impacts attributed to WHS. Average yearly costs associated with WHS were of AUD$ 293 million and AUD$ 16 million for LFS. The latter increased up to more than AUD$ 34 million during extreme bushfire seasons. This is the first study to quantify the health impacts attributable to biomass smoke for Tasmania. We estimated substantial impacts, which could be reduced through replacing heating technologies, improving fire management, and possibly implementing integrated strategies. This would most likely produce important and cost-effective health benefits.

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Borchers Arriagada, N and Palmer, AJ and Bowman, DMJS and Williamson, GJ and Johnston, FH
Keywords: Tasmania, smoke, woodsmoke, fires, fine particulate matter, health effects, asthma, health costs, woodstoves
Journal or Publication Title: International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Publisher: MDPI
ISSN: 1661-7827
DOI / ID Number: 10.3390/ijerph17093264
Copyright Information:

Copyright 2020 The Authors. Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/

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