Vegetation fires, particulate air pollution and asthma: a panel study in the Australian monsoon tropics

Int J Environ Health Res. 2006 Dec;16(6):391-404. doi: 10.1080/09603120601093642.


We examined the relationship between particulate matter (PM) <10 and <2.5 microns in diameter (PM10 and PM2.5) generated by vegetation fires and daily health outcomes in 251 adults and children with asthma over a 7-month period. Data were analysed using generalized estimating equations adjusted for potential environmental confounders, autocorrelation, weekends and holidays. PM10 ranged from 2.6 - 43.3 microg m-3and was significantly associated with onset of asthma symptoms, commencing oral steroid medication, the mean daily symptom count and the mean daily dose of reliever medication. Similar results were found for PM2.5. No associations were found with the more severe outcomes of asthma attacks, increased health care attendances or missed school/work days. These results help fill a gap in the evidence about the population health impacts of lower levels of pollution characteristic of deliberate landscape burning to control fuel loads versus the better documented risks of more intense and severely polluting wildfires.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Air Pollutants / toxicity*
  • Asthma / etiology*
  • Australia
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Environmental Exposure / adverse effects*
  • Female
  • Fires*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Medical Records
  • Middle Aged
  • Pollen
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Smoke / adverse effects*
  • Tropical Climate


  • Air Pollutants
  • Smoke