Fine particulate matter exposure and medication dispensing during and after a coal mine fire: A time series analysis from the Hazelwood Health Study

Amanda L. Johnson, Joanna F. Dipnall, Martine Dennekamp, Grant J. Williamson, Caroline X. Gao, Matthew T.C. Carroll, Christina Dimitriadis, Jillian F. Ikin, Fay H. Johnston, Alexander C. McFarlane, Malcolm R. Sim, Dion A. Stub, Michael J. Abramson, Yuming Guo

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Limited research has examined the impacts of coal mine fire smoke on human health. The aim of this study was to assess the association between prolonged smoke PM2.5 exposure from a brown coal mine fire that burned over a seven week period in 2014 and medications dispensed across five localities in South-eastern Victoria, Australia. Spatially resolved PM2.5 concentrations were retrospectively estimated using a dispersion model coupled with a chemical transport model. Data on medications dispensed were collected from the national Pharmaceutical Benefits Schedule database for 2013–2016. Poisson distributed lag time series analysis was used to examine associations between daily mine fire-related PM2.5concentrations and daily counts of medications dispensed for respiratory, cardiovascular or psychiatric conditions. Factors controlled for included: seasonality, long-term trend, day of the week, maximum ambient temperature and public holidays. Positive associations were found between mine fire-related PM2.5and increased risks of medications dispensed for respiratory, cardiovascular and psychiatric conditions, over a lag range of 3–7 days. A 10 μg/m3 increase in coal mine fire-related PM2.5 was associated with a 25% (95%CI 19–32%) increase in respiratory medications, a 10% (95%CI 7–13%) increase in cardiovascular medications and a 12% (95%CI 8–16%) increase in psychiatric medications dispensed. These findings have the potential to better prepare for and develop more appropriate public health responses in the event of future coal mine fires.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1027-1035
Number of pages9
JournalEnvironmental Pollution
Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2019


  • Coal mine fire
  • Fine particulate matter (PM)
  • Medication dispensing
  • Smoke exposure
  • Time series

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