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Open AccessArticle

Health Impacts of Ambient Biomass Smoke in Tasmania, Australia

1
Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart 7000, Tasmania, Australia
2
New South Wales Bushfire Risk Management Research Hub, University of Tasmania, Hobart 2522, Tasmania, Australia
3
Centre for Health Policy, School of Population and Global Health, The University of Melbourne, Parkville 3010, Victoria, Australia
4
School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Launceston 7250, Tasmania, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17(9), 3264; https://doi.org/10.3390/ijerph17093264
Received: 15 April 2020 / Revised: 30 April 2020 / Accepted: 4 May 2020 / Published: 7 May 2020
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. View Full-Text
Keywords: woodsmoke; fires; fine particulate matter; health effects; asthma; health costs; woodstoves woodsmoke; fires; fine particulate matter; health effects; asthma; health costs; woodstoves
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Borchers-Arriagada, N.; Palmer, A.J.; Bowman, D.M.; Williamson, G.J.; Johnston, F.H. Health Impacts of Ambient Biomass Smoke in Tasmania, Australia. Int. J. Environ. Res. Public Health 2020, 17, 3264.

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