Dr Kayla Smurthwaite

Research Fellow


Kayla Smurthwaite is an applied epidemiologist and lecturer in environmental health at the National Centre for Epidemiology and Population Health.

Kayla has experience in epidemiological study design and data analysis, environmental epidemiology investigation, systematic review and qualitative research. Her PhD research focused on exposure to per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Australian communities affected by environmental contamination, through which she contributed to the PFAS Health Study, Air Services Australia Study of PFAS exposure, and an ongoing NHMRC study of longitudinal PFAS exposure assessment.

Kayla is the Convenor of the Human Health, Environment and Climate Change course for the Masters of Public Health, with experience in teaching environmental health.

See Google Scholar page.

Keywords: public health, applied epidemiology, environmental health, human exposure, risk assessment, persistent organic pollutants


Research interests

Environmental Health
  • Exposure measurement
  • Risk assessment
  • Risk communication
  • Health and social concerns
  • Current challenges of public interest

Special interest: Slow-moving environmental disasters

  • Community exposure to loose-fill asbestos insulation
  • Community exposure to Per and Polyfluoroalkyl Substances (PFAS)
  • Occupational exposure to PFAS in aviation firefighters
  • General population exposure to PFAS

Applied Epidemiology Methodology

  • Risk assessment
  • Systematic review and meta-analysis
  • Qualitative research



  • Law, H, Armstrong, B, D'Este, C et al. 2023, 'Relative rates of cancers and deaths in Australian communities with PFAS environmental contamination associated with firefighting foams: A cohort study using linked data', Cancer Epidemiology, vol. 82.
  • Lazarevic, N, Smurthwaite, K, Batterham, P et al. 2023, 'Psychological distress in three Australian communities living with environmental per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances contamination', Science of the Total Environment, vol. 874, pp. 1-11.
  • Nilsson, S, Braunig, J, Carey, R et al. 2022, 'Longitudinal measurements of per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in archived human serum samples between 1975 and 1995 in Australia', Journal of Hazardous Materials, vol. 443, no. Part B, pp. 1-9.
  • Nilsson, S, Smurthwaite, K, Aylward, L et al. 2022, 'Associations between serum perfluoroalkyl acid (PFAA) concentrations and health related biomarkers in firefighters', Environmental Research, vol. 215.
  • Nilsson, S, Smurthwaite, K, Aylward, L et al. 2022, 'Serum concentration trends and apparent half-lives of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS) in Australian firefighters', International Journal of Hygiene and Environmental Health, vol. 246, pp. 1-12.
  • Banwell, C, Housen, T, Smurthwaite, K et al. 2021, 'Health and social concerns about living in three communities affected by per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS): A qualitative study in Australia', PLOS ONE (Public Library of Science), vol. 16, no. 1.
  • Aw, J, Smurthwaite, K & Bagheri, N 2020, 'Investigating spatial convergence of diagnosed dementia, depression and type 2 diabetes prevalence in West Adelaide, Australia', Journal of Affective Disorders, vol. 277, pp. 524-530.
  • Chung, Y, Bagheri, N, Salinas-Perez, J et al. 2019, 'Role of visual analytics in supporting mental healthcare systems research and policy: A systematic scoping review', International Journal of Information Management, vol. 50, no. 2020, pp. 17-27.
  • Smurthwaite, K & Bagheri, N 2017, 'Using geographical convergence of obesity, cardiovascular disease, and type 2 diabetes at the neighborhood level to inform policy and practice', Preventing chronic disease [electronic resource]., vol. 14, no. 10, pp. 1-9.