The public health impacts of air pollution in Australia: Research, policy and planning disconnects
There is a growing awareness that climate change and air quality are linked. The same practices that contribute to climate change - emissions from fossil fuel power generation, transport and industrial processes - also impact our air quality.
Clare Walter's research examines the health impacts of air pollution in Australia. Air pollution in Australia contributes to an estimated 4880 premature deaths annually - triple the road toll. Yet public awareness is low, and policy and planning measures are significantly lagging by international comparison. Despite a reasonable body of domestic evidence, risk analyses continue to be guided by less recent international studies, which may not accurately reflect the impacts in the Australian setting. Recent evidence has signposted higher risk estimates at lower concentration levels.
The implications of domestic evidence with regard to mitigating public health impacts, influencing policy, reducing emissions and potentially re-framing the climate debate in Australia are discussed.
Clare originally trained as a hospital pharmacist specialising in oncology/pain and palliative care. Working in the lung clinics at Peter MacCallum cancer centre sparked an interest in the link between air pollution and lung cancer in Australia. Clare is an honorary research fellow of the University of Melbourne and is involved in air quality advocacy for the Lung Health Research Centre (UoM) and the department of Respiratory Medicine (RMH). Clare holds an undergrad pharmacy degree from Otago University, New Zealand and a Grad Cert in clinical pharmacy from the University of London.
PhD project: The health impacts of air pollution in Australia. From research to policy
Supervisors: Luke Knibbs, Nina Hall, Peter Sly and Brian Head (UQ)