Health effects of smoke from planned burns: a study protocol

David O'Keeffe, Martina Dennekamp, Lahn Straney, Mahjabeen Mazhar, Tom O'Dwyer, Anjali Haikerwal, Fabienne Reisen, Michael J. Abramson, Fay Johnston

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleOtherpeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Large populations are exposed to smoke from bushfires and planned burns. Studies investigating the association between bushfire smoke and health have typically used hospital or ambulance data and been done retrospectively on large populations. The present study is designed to prospectively assess the association between individual level health outcomes and exposure to smoke from planned burns. 

Methods/design: A prospective cohort study will be conducted during a planned burn season in three locations in Victoria (Australia) involving 50 adult participants who undergo three rounds of cardiorespiratory medical tests, including measurements for lung inflammation, endothelial function, heart rate variability and markers of inflammation. In addition daily symptoms and twice daily lung function are recorded. Outdoor particulate air pollution is continuously measured during the study period in these locations. The data will be analysed using mixed effect models adjusting for confounders. 

Discussion: Planned burns depend on weather conditions and dryness of 'fuels' (i.e. forest). It is potentially possible that no favourable conditions occur during the study period. To reduce the risk of this occurring, three separate locations have been identified as having a high likelihood of planned burn smoke exposure during the study period, with the full study being rolled out in two of these three locations. A limitation of this study is exposure misclassification as outdoor measurements will be conducted as a measure for personal exposures. However this misclassification will be reduced as participants are only eligible if they live in close proximity to the monitors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2862
Number of pages7
JournalBMC Public Health
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 24 Feb 2016


  • Endothelial function
  • Forest fire smoke
  • Lung inflammation
  • Markers of inflammation
  • Particulate matter (PM)
  • Planned burn smoke

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