October report for Environment, Climate and Health

7 October 2020

New grants/funding

Systematic Literature Review of the role of aerosol and surfaces on disease transmission in washrooms, funded by Dyson Technology Ltd. ($63k) – Sotiris Vardoulakis 

“Positioning ANU to be a leader in provider of industry-relevant training for the agri-sector”. Funded by ANU DVC-R strategic funding from the 2020 re-emergence budget ($115k) – Rachael Rodney Harris and colleagues at CEAT and Fenner School.

Keynote and invited presentations

Sotiris Vardoulakis presented an international perspective on HIAs at the CAR Health Impact Assessment Online Workshop on 3rd September 2020.


Aparna Lal has been awarded an ACT Tall Poppy Award for 2020.

Outreach and engagement

Sotiris Vardoulakis gave a briefing to the Senate Inquiry into lessons to be learned in relation to the Australian bushfire season 2019–20.

Media releases/interest

Sotiris Vardoulakis gave interviews to: 

· ABC News TV live and online on airborne transmission of COVID-19 https://www.abc.net.au/news/2020-08-26/coronavirus-queensland-tiny-parti...

· Canberra Times on COVID-19 transmission and the use of facemasks https://www.canberratimes.com.au/story/6894793/call-for-wider-mask-use-a...

· Al Jazeera on bushfire smoke and pregnancy risks https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/10/1/bushfire-danger-smoke-puts-live...

· Sky News on indoor air quality and health on (25 Sept 2020)

Student news

Nisali Jayasinghe will work with Rachael Rodney Harris and the ECH team for the rest of the year to complete a research project as part of her PhB.

Papers accepted/published:

Todkill D., Colón-González F.J., Morbey R., Charlett A., Hajat S., Kovats S., Osborne N., McInnes R.N., Vardoulakis S., Exley K., Edeghere O., Smith G., Elliot A.J., 2020. Environmental factors associated with general practitioner consultations for allergic rhinitis in London, England: a retrospective time series analysis. BMJ Open (in press) 

Cooper N., Green D., Guo Y., Vardoulakis S., 2020. School children’s exposure to indoor fine particulate matter. Environmental Research Letters (in press) 

Black LJ, Dunlop E, Lucas RM, Pearson G, Farrant B, Shepherd CCJ. Prevalence and predictors of vitamin D deficiency in a nationally-representative sample of Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander adults Br J Nutr (accepted 23 Sep 2020) 

Dawel, A., Shou, Y., Smithson, M., Cherbuin, N., Banfield, M., Calear, A. L., Farrer, L.M., Gray, D., Gulliver, A., Housen, T., McCallum, S.M., Morse, A.R., Murray, K., Newman, E., Rodney Harris, R.M., & Batterham, P.J. (2020). The effect of COVID-19 on mental health and wellbeing in a representative sample of Australian adults. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 11, 1026. https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.579985/

Progress on research projects

PFAS Health Study – The Focus Groups article was submitted to Plos One after peer review. Fieldwork in the comparison areas began in August and will continue until mid-December. Four waves of invitations have been sent out, with reminder letters mailed two weeks later. Analysis is underway on the cross-sectional Survey and blood serum study for the exposed communities. Analysis is underway on the linked perinatal data for NSW, Qld and NT. The national data is currently being linked by AIHW. 

Climate Change and Health Policy and 5-Year Action plan for the Marshall Islands – Working on final project deliverable (Vardoulakis et al.) 

Cross-college bushfire smoke children's book project – Interviews and literature review ongoing. https://rsph.anu.edu.au/phxchange/ -science/bushfire-smoke-childrens-book 

(RSPH involvement: Erin Walsh, Sotiris Vardoulakis, Ginny Sargent, and Liz Drummond) 

COVID-19 airborne transmission systematic review – abstract screening completed, full-text screening and data extraction ongoing (Sotiris Vardoulakis and Daniela Espinoza). 

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

Bushfire Response – Air Quality Monitoring Programme: pilot monitoring completed in two households (Sotiris Vardoulakis) 

Contribution to the MC2020 study led by ANUMS: https://medicalschool.anu.edu.au/research/projects/mother-and-child-2020...

Sun Exposure and Vitamin D Supplementation (SEDS) Study – Analysis and drafting of manuscripts for this study is ongoing. https://rsph.anu.edu.au/research/projects/sun-exposure-and-vitamin-d-sup...

Bushfire Health Study – Analysis and drafting of manuscripts for this project is ongoing. https://rsph.anu.edu.au/research/projects/bushfire-health-survey 

MRFF - Building community resilience to promote mental health in bushfire-affected communities – Postdoctoral and RA team members have been employed. Considerable work has gone into development of the phase one community survey and this will be submitted for ethics consideration shortly. https://psychology.anu.edu.au/research/projects/building-community-resil...

The Australian National COVID-19 Mental Health, Behaviour and Risk Communication Survey – The initial publication of baseline results from this study has been accepted by Frontiers in Psychiatry. Multiple other papers are at various stages of submission/preparation. https://psychology.anu.edu.au/research/projects/australian-national-covi...