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Article

Using Digital Technology to Protect Health in Prolonged Poor Air Quality Episodes: A Case Study of the AirRater App during the Australian 2019–20 Fires

1
Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, 17 Liverpool St, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia
2
Public Health Services, Department of Health (Tasmania), 25 Argyle St, Hobart, Tasmania 7000, Australia
3
School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Sandy Bay Campus, Churchill Ave, Hobart, Tasmania 7001, Australia
4
Mary MacKillop Institute for Health Research, Australian Catholic University, 215 Spring St, Melbourne, Victoria 3000, Australia
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 July 2020 / Revised: 31 July 2020 / Accepted: 2 August 2020 / Published: 4 August 2020
In the southern hemisphere summer of 2019–20, Australia experienced its most severe bushfire season on record. Smoke from fires affected 80% of the population, with large and prolonged exceedances of the Australian National Air Quality Standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5) recorded in all major population centers. We examined if AirRater, a free smartphone app that reports air quality and tracks user symptoms in near real-time, assisted those populations to reduce their smoke exposure and protect their health. We distributed an online survey to over 13,000 AirRater users to assess how they used this information during the 2019–20 bushfire season, and why it was helpful to aid decision-making in reducing personal smoke exposure. We received responses from 1732 users (13.3%). Respondents reported the app was highly useful, supporting informed decision-making regarding daily activities during the smoke-affected period. Commonly reported activities supported by information provided through the app were staying inside (76%), rescheduling or planning outdoor activities (64%), changing locations to less affected areas (29%) and informing decisions on medication use (15%). Innovative and easy-to-use smartphone apps such as AirRater, that provide individual-level and location-specific data, can enable users to reduce their exposure to environmental hazards and therefore protect their health. View Full-Text
Keywords: smoke; particulate matter; smartphone app; digital technology smoke; particulate matter; smartphone app; digital technology
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MDPI and ACS Style

Campbell, S.L.; Jones, P.J.; Williamson, G.J.; Wheeler, A.J.; Lucani, C.; Bowman, D.M.J.S.; Johnston, F.H. Using Digital Technology to Protect Health in Prolonged Poor Air Quality Episodes: A Case Study of the AirRater App during the Australian 2019–20 Fires. Fire 2020, 3, 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030040

AMA Style

Campbell SL, Jones PJ, Williamson GJ, Wheeler AJ, Lucani C, Bowman DMJS, Johnston FH. Using Digital Technology to Protect Health in Prolonged Poor Air Quality Episodes: A Case Study of the AirRater App during the Australian 2019–20 Fires. Fire. 2020; 3(3):40. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030040

Chicago/Turabian Style

Campbell, Sharon L., Penelope J. Jones, Grant J. Williamson, Amanda J. Wheeler, Christopher Lucani, David M.J.S. Bowman, and Fay H. Johnston 2020. "Using Digital Technology to Protect Health in Prolonged Poor Air Quality Episodes: A Case Study of the AirRater App during the Australian 2019–20 Fires" Fire 3, no. 3: 40. https://doi.org/10.3390/fire3030040

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