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Climate Change, Wildfires, Heatwaves and Health Impacts in Australia


Borchers, N and Bowman, DMJS and Palmer, AJ and Johnston, FH, Climate Change, Wildfires, Heatwaves and Health Impacts in Australia, Extreme Weather Events and Human Health, Springer, R Akhtar (ed), Cham, Switzerland, pp. 99-116. ISBN 978-3-030-23772-1 (2020) [Research Book Chapter]

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Copyright Statement

Copyright 2020 Springer Nature Switzerland AG

DOI: doi:10.1007/978-3-030-23773-8_8


Heat-related extreme events, such as wildfires and heatwaves, have historically imposed a burden on Australian society, and according to rigorous and robust scientific literature, it is expected that there will be increases in frequency, intensity and duration of these types of natural hazards. Within Australia, wildfires and heatwaves are currently responsible for more than 60% of all direct fatalities related to natural hazards, and it is highly likely that this is an underestimation as some health impacts are not routinely quantified (e.g. premature death related to air pollution from wildfire smoke exposure). Deaths attributable to heatwaves and fire smoke pollution are more commonly due to exacerbations of pre-existing health conditions, than to specific direct impacts such as heat stroke. Some groups, such as the elderly, infants and those with pre-existing conditions, tend to be more vulnerable to these impacts. Furthermore, evidence suggests that there are synergistic additional impacts when exposed to high temperature and air pollution, and that probably health impacts are considerably underestimated in the case of some specific groups such as those with occupational chronic exposure to fire smoke. To avoid increases in public health effects, society at all levels needs to increase its adaptive capacity. Measures need to be taken from a planning and management perspective through to community response at a local level, adequately focusing resources to include vulnerable sectors and population groups.

Item Details

Item Type:Research Book Chapter
Keywords:climate change, bushfires, wildfires, heatwaves, health, Australia
Research Division:Earth Sciences
Research Group:Climate change science
Research Field:Climate change processes
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Borchers, N (Mr Nicolas Borchers Arriagada)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
UTAS Author:Palmer, AJ (Professor Andrew Palmer)
UTAS Author:Johnston, FH (Professor Fay Johnston)
ID Code:139903
Year Published:2020
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2020-07-14
Last Modified:2022-08-29
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