July report for Environment, Climate and Health

1 July 2020

Keynote and invited presentations

Webinar on “COVID-19 lockdown implications for air quality in Australia and New Zealand” organised by the Clean Air Society of Australia and New Zealand (CASANZ). Sotiris gave a presentation on “COVID-19 lockdown implications for air quality, climate change and public health” (4 June)

Outreach and engagement

Robyn Lucas presented to the Taking Control group for people with MS in the ACT and region on COVID-19 and a possible ‘second wave’.

Aparna Lal presented to the Taking Control group for people with MS in the ACT and region on the sewage surveillance project.

Media releases/interest

Sotiris Vardoulakis gave an interview to The Canberra Times on firefighters and cancer risk:


Student news

Aparna has had two Masters students’ complete their research projects.

Saras is doing a Master of Climate Change at the Crawford School and completed her research project at RSPH. She did her thesis on water quality in recreational swimming spots in the ACT and rainfall extremes.

Sarah is doing an MPH in France and completed her research project at RSPH. Her thesis focussed on high resolution relationships between access to health services, socio-economic disadvantage and respiratory outcomes in the ACT: implications for emergency planning.

Other news

Sotiris has been affiliated to the NHMRC Centre for Air pollution, energy and health Research (CAR) https://www.car-cre.org.au/news

Robyn Lucas has been working with other academics from the College to develop a protocol for a Climate Crisis and Clinical Practice Symposium 2020 to be held later in 2020.

Papers accepted/published:

Mueller W., Loh M., Vardoulakis S., Johnston H.J., Steinle S., Precha N., Kliengchuay W., Tantrakarnapa K., Cherrie J.W., 2020. Ambient particulate matter and biomass burning: An ecological time series study of respiratory and cardiovascular hospital visits in northern Thailand. Environmental Health (in press)

Simpson-Yap S, Oddy W, Taylor BV, Lucas RM, Black LJ, Ponsonby A-L, Blizzard L, Dwyer T, Ausimmune/AusLong Investigators Group, van der Mei I. High Prudent diet factor score predicts lower relapse hazard in early multiple sclerosis, Mult Scler J (accepted 28 June 2020)

Progress on research projects

PFAS Health Study – Miranda Harris and Karin English have both resigned from the project, taking up positions with the ACT Department of Health after secondments to assist with the response to COVID-19. The study has been granted an extension on the remaining components, due to the impact of COVID-19. The reports for the final components will be submitted in mid-2021. Participants of the study and other interested community members were informed of the delay via traditional and social media and email. Analysis on the blood serum and survey data from the exposed communities is ongoing. Plans are underway for the rollout of the cross-sectional survey and blood serum study in the comparison communities—to be launched mid-August. State-based perinatal data has been received for the data linkage study, with the linkage of national data currently underway at the Australian Institute of Health and Welfare.

COVID-19 airborne transmission systematic review is in progress with searches in four bibliographic databases completed and title screening ongoing (Sotiris Vardoulakis and Daniela Espinoza). 

COVID-19 sewage monitoring programme is ongoing (Aparna Lal et al.)