Air pollution death toll needs solutions

Australia’s air pollution death toll is higher than fatalities from road accidents. So air quality scientists, medical researchers and Government agency representatives from around Australia are meeting in Melbourne this week to tackle the health problems associated with air pollution.

“Mortality due to air pollution in Australia is higher than the road toll,” says Dr Tom Beer from CSIRO Atmospheric Research, one of the organisers of the two-day course. “Each year on average, 2400 of the 140,000 Australians deaths are linked to air quality and health issues – much more than the 1700 people who die on our roads. That’s an average of a death every four hours. This number increases if long-term effects of air toxics on cancer are included.”

With Australia’s urbanised community becoming increasingly concerned about atmospheric health hazards, representatives from State Government health and environment departments are meeting with atmospheric scientists and medical researchers to discuss how to manage the risk of dangerous and hazardous air pollutants. Dr Beer says it is particularly important to consider the science in light of the national, uniform environmental measures – known as NEPMs.

“CSIRO has decades of experience in air quality research – including gas and particle measurements, computer modelling, and risk assessment,” says Dr Beer. “This places us in a unique position to bring together policy-relevant science within a risk framework that integrates scientific and medical concerns.”

The course concludes on 2 March. It is part of a National Collaborative Program on the Atmospheric Environment and Health funded by the Commonwealth Department of Health and Ageing.

The main collaborating institutions are: Australian National University’s National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health; University of Sydney’s School of Public Health; NSW Health; CSIRO Atmospheric Research; Monash University’s Department of Epidemiology and Preventive Medicine, and the Bureau of Meteorology Research Centre.

More information from:
Dr Tom Beer, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, 03 9239 4546
Email: tom.beer@csiro.au
Dr Bill Physick, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, 03 9239 4636,
Email: bill.physick@csiro.au

Media assistance:
Simon Torok, CSIRO Atmospheric Research, 03 9239 4645, mobile: 0409 844 302
Email: simon.torok@csiro.au

Media Contact

Geraldine Capp CSIRO

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