New research will help doctors and patients manage future impact of bushfires

16 Jan 2020

AMA President, Dr Tony Bartone, said that the findings of new bushfire smoke research will provide people with better knowledge of prevention measures, and empower doctors with better clinical solutions to care for communities affected by future extreme bushfires and other air quality emergencies.

The Government’s funding announcement – $5 million for research into the physiological and mental health impacts of prolonged exposure to bushfire smoke on people and communities – follows weeks of warnings in the media about air quality and the effects on human health from Dr Bartone and other AMA spokespeople. The AMA raised these concerns directly with the Health Minister.

Dr Bartone said that the short-term effects of hazardous air quality are well-researched, but the long-term effects of short and medium time periods of exposure are not well understood.

“The AMA has been extensively engaged in responding to both our patients and the wider public’s concerns about the impact of hazardous air on individual and population health over the last couple of months,” Dr Bartone said.

“General practitioners are treating people in fire-ravaged areas and other communities, and seeing first-hand those affected by the physical conditions and mental health consequences of ongoing exposure to hazardous air.”

Dr Bartone highlighted that the lack of clinical and public health research evidence about the long-term impacts of this kind of exposure to hazardous air makes public education challenging.

The AMA supports research that builds on existing knowledge on air quality and human health. Such research could assess national and international knowledge so that it can be applied into clinical and public health practice across Australia.

Dr Bartone will be attending the Prime Minister’s bushfire response roundtable in Canberra on 17 January 2020.

Read the full media release here.