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Unprecedented health costs of smoke-related PM2.5 from the 201920 Australian megafires


Johnston, FH and Borchers-Arriagada, N and Morgan, GG and Jalaludin, B and Palmer, AJ and Williamson, GJ and Bowman, DMJS, Unprecedented health costs of smoke-related PM2.5 from the 2019-20 Australian megafires, Nature Sustainability, (September) pp. 1-12. ISSN 2398-9629 (2020) [Refereed Article]

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2020 Springer Nature Limited

DOI: doi:10.1038/s41893-020-00610-5


In flammable landscapes around the globe, longer fire seasons with larger, more severely burnt areas are causing social and economic impacts that are unsustainable. The Australian 201920 fire season is emblematic of this trend, burning over 8 million ha of predominately Eucalyptus forests over a six-month period. We calculated the wildfire-smoke-related health burden and costs in Australia for the most recent 20 fire seasons and found that the 201920 season was a major anomaly in the recent record, with smoke-related health costs of AU$1.95 billion. These were driven largely by an estimated 429 smoke-related premature deaths in addition to 3,230 hospital admissions for cardiovascular and respiratory disorders and 1,523 emergency attendances for asthma. The total cost was well above the next highest estimate of AU$566 million in 200203 and more than nine times the median annual wildfire associated costs for the previous 19 years of AU$211 million. There are substantial economic costs attributable to wildfire smoke and the potential for dramatic increases in this burden as the frequency and intensity of wildfires increase with a hotter climate.

Item Details

Item Type:Refereed Article
Keywords:fire smoke, pm2.5, health impacts, economic analysis
Research Division:Health Sciences
Research Group:Health services and systems
Research Field:Health services and systems not elsewhere classified
Objective Division:Health
Objective Group:Public health (excl. specific population health)
Objective Field:Public health (excl. specific population health) not elsewhere classified
UTAS Author:Johnston, FH (Professor Fay Johnston)
UTAS Author:Borchers-Arriagada, N (Mr Nicolas Borchers Arriagada)
UTAS Author:Palmer, AJ (Professor Andrew Palmer)
UTAS Author:Williamson, GJ (Dr Grant Williamson)
UTAS Author:Bowman, DMJS (Professor David Bowman)
ID Code:141068
Year Published:2020
Web of Science® Times Cited:78
Deposited By:Menzies Institute for Medical Research
Deposited On:2020-09-22
Last Modified:2020-10-09
Downloads:31 View Download Statistics

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