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The effects on mortality and the associated financial costs of wood heater pollution in a regional Australian city

Robinson, DL, Horsley, JA, Johnston, FH ORCID: 0000-0002-5150-8678 and Morgan, GG 2021 , 'The effects on mortality and the associated financial costs of wood heater pollution in a regional Australian city' , Medical Journal of Australia, vol. 215, no. 6 , pp. 269-272 , doi: 10.5694/mja2.51199.

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Abstract

Objectives: To estimate the annual burden of mortality and the associated health costs attributable to air pollution from wood heaters in Armidale.Design: Health impact assessment (excess annual mortality and financial costs) based upon atmospheric PM2.5 measurements.Setting: Armidale, a regional Australian city (population, 24 504) with high levels of air pollution in winter caused by domestic wood heaters, 1 May 2018 - 30 April 2019.Main outcome measures: Estimated population exposure to PM2.5 from wood heaters; estimated numbers of premature deaths and years of life lost.Results: Fourteen premature deaths (95% CI, 12-17 deaths) per year, corresponding to 210 (95% CI, 172-249) years of life lost, are attributable to long term exposure to wood heater PM2.5 pollution in Armidale. The estimated financial cost is $32.8 million (95% CI, $27.0-38.5 million), or $10 930 (95% CI, $9004-12 822) per wood heater per year.Conclusions: The substantial mortality and financial cost attributable to wood heating in Armidale indicates that effective policies are needed to reduce wood heater pollution, including public education about the effects of wood smoke on health, subsidies that encourage residents to switch to less polluting home heating (perhaps as part of an economic recovery package), assistance for those affected by wood smoke from other people, and regulations that reduce wood heater use (eg, by not permitting new wood heaters and requiring existing units to be removed when houses are sold).

Item Type: Article
Authors/Creators:Robinson, DL and Horsley, JA and Johnston, FH and Morgan, GG
Keywords: air pollutants, public health
Journal or Publication Title: Medical Journal of Australia
Publisher: Australasian Medical Publishing Co.
ISSN: 0025-729X
DOI / ID Number: 10.5694/mja2.51199
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