The psychological impacts of a smoke event on young adults compared to other aged adults in Victoria, Australia

Katelyn A. O'Donohue, Emily Berger, Louise McLean, Caroline X. Gao, Jonathan C. Broder, Michael J. Abramson, Malcolm R. Sim, Jillian Ikin, David Brown, Christina Dimitriadis, Judi Walker, Matthew Carroll

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A cross-sectional survey of 3090 Morwell adults, including 446 young adults (18–34) was administered approximately 2.5 years following the 2014 Hazelwood smoke event in Morwell, Victoria. Young adults with higher smoke exposure tended to experience greater psychological distress than other ages. For every 10 (μg/m3) increase in exposure there was a 2.08 point increase in event related psychological distress for young adults (95% CI: 0.11 to 4.10) compared to no increase for adults aged 65 and over (−0.04; 95% CI: -0.75 to 0.67). A similar non-significant trend was identified for general psychological distress. Prior mental health conditions and prior traumatic event exposures also tended to place young adults at higher risk of general psychological distress. These findings have critical implications for intervening with young adults following prolonged smoke events.

Original languageEnglish
Article number102727
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction
Publication statusPublished - 15 Feb 2022


  • Air pollution
  • Disaster
  • Mine fire
  • Psychological distress
  • Smoke event
  • Young adults

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