Suitable for Honours or Masters project.
Exposure to bushfire smoke is a major health concern in Australia, which is only set to increase due to fluctuating weather patterns because of climate change. Particulate matter (PM) present in bushfire smoke has adverse effects on health causing premature mortality and the exacerbation of cardio-respiratory conditions. In vitro studies have identified unique detrimental effects of bushfire smoke on brain cells, compared to that of traffic air pollution. Previous work has shown an association between air pollution and dementia, but there have been limited studies investigating the effect of bushfire smoke on cognitive decline and dementia risk.
To identify dementia-related health and cognitive factors associated with bushfire smoke exposure in middle aged and older individuals.
Using data (including cognitive testing, self-report and medical records) from our large-scale cohort study (PISA: the Prospective Imaging Study of Aging) together with the latest mapping of fire smoke exposure we will investigate the association of exposure to bushfire smoke with health and cognitive outcomes. This work is in collaboration with the Cellular and Molecular Neurodegeneration Group (led by Professor Anthony White).
Understanding the potential consequences of exposure to bushfire smoke to dementia risk will be imperative in informing public health protection approaches as the incidence of bushfire events increase.