Adults Exposed to Coal Mine Fire Smoke Report More Asthma and Respiratory Symptoms than Those Not Exposed

M. J. Abramson, Jillian Blackman, Matthew Carroll, Christina Dimitriadis, A Del Monaco, M Dennekamp, Susan Denny, C. X. Gao, J. Walker

Research output: Contribution to conferenceAbstract


Rationale: A fire burned in the Hazelwood open cut brown coal mine for 6 weeks in 2014, showering the nearby town of Morwell with smoke and ash. The aims of the Hazelwood Health Study included assessing whether Morwell adults, who were heavily exposed to smoke from the fire, experienced more respiratory symptoms compared to adults from the town of Sale, who were minimally exposed. Methods: Eligible people were aged 18 years or older at the time of the mine fire and lived in Morwell or selected areas in Sale. Contact details drawn from the electoral roll identified 9,448 and 4,444 eligible registered residents in Morwell and Sale respectively. These residents were offered the option of completing the Hazelwood Adult Survey in one of three ways: telephone interview, online or paper questionnaire. Recruitment commenced in May 2016 and concluded in February 2017. In total, 3,096 (33%) Morwell residents and 960 (23%) Sale residents participated in the survey. To minimise the confounding effects of other health risk factors, multivariable log binomial or Poisson regression models were fitted to adjust for differences between Morwell and Sale participants in terms of gender, age, education, employment and smoking. Results: The differences between Morwell and Sale, in self-reported pre- and post-mine fire rates of asthma and respiratory symptoms in the past 12 months, are summarised in the Figure. Self-reported doctor diagnosed asthma since the mine fire, as well as current respiratory symptoms, were all more common among Morwell compared with Sale participants. Amongst asthmatics, symptoms were also more severe in Morwell compared to Sale. The risks of irritant symptoms from the chest and nose, consistent with chronic bronchitis and rhinitis, were also higher among Morwell participants.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 2018
EventAmerican Thoracic Society International Conference 2018 - San Diego Convention Centre, San Diego, United States of America
Duration: 17 May 201822 May 2018


ConferenceAmerican Thoracic Society International Conference 2018
Abbreviated titleATS2018
Country/TerritoryUnited States of America
CitySan Diego
Internet address

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