Lung function and asthma impacts

No effects on asthma-related symptoms or severity, lung function or airway inflammation were
found in adults with asthma from Morwell who were exposed to the smoke from the
Hazelwood mine fire, a new study has found.

The findings were made after Hazelwood Health Study researchers compared 165 adults with
asthma from Morwell who were exposed to the smoke and 64 adults with asthma from Sale
who were not exposed to the smoke.

“We aimed to discover whether adults with asthma who were exposed to the smoke had more
severe symptoms, worse lung function or poorer asthma control, compared to adults with
asthma who were not exposed”, said Professor Michael Abramson

“What we found was that in people with asthma, short term coal mine fire smoke exposure
does not appear to have long term impact on the severity of asthma symptoms or lung
function, but it may affect asthma control.”

“We found a higher proportion of Morwell residents were on medium to high doses of inhaled
preventer medications. We may not have seen a difference in the self-reported symptoms,
severity or lung function results in this study, because the participants had been following
their medication.”

These findings will be shared with relevant organisations and the scientific community so that
they can inform services for the future health of the Latrobe Valley. The Latrobe Health
Assembly, for example, has responded to the need for better management practices among
people in the Latrobe Valley who have asthma.

“We see asthma management as a priority area, and are running a series of public education
activities under the #Scarfie banner this month, with pop-up stands in Traralgon this week and
in Churchill next week, with similar activities already held in Moe and Morwell. Details are on
the Latrobe Health Assembly Facebook page” said Latrobe Health Assembly Executive
Officer Ian Needham.

For more information about the Hazelwood Health Study, visit

This research was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.