Research project: Smoke, Air Quality and Pregnancy

Research project: Smoke, Air Quality and Pregnancy
Thursday 24 September 2020

During the summer of 2019-2020 the Canberra region, the NSW South Coast, and Southeast NSW experienced consistently poor air quality over several months due to bushfires. This posed risks to adults and children which were difficult to quantify. Some groups such as older people, pregnant women and people with respiratory conditions were thought to be at particular risk. This project seeks to understand how women who were pregnant and parenting during this period found out about, interpreted and acted upon these risks.

This research is a sub-project within the larger Mother and Child 2020 study, a longitudinal study which will use questionnaires and health information to assess the impacts of the 2019/20 bushfires and more recently the COVID-19 (coronavirus) pandemic on the health and well-being of pregnant women, new mothers and their babies. The study is a collaborative project led by the ANU Medical School and involving multiple Universities, Local Health Districts and Aboriginal Health Services in the ACT/Southeast NSW region. More information about this study can be found here.

This project is a collaboration between sociologists and medical researchers at the ANU. We are all interested in women’s and babies’ health and how people manage in times of environmental crisis, such as bushfires. The sociologists are Professor Celia Roberts, Professor Mary Lou Rasmussen and Dr Rebecca Williamson. We all work on issues around health, sexuality and reproduction. The medical researchers are Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis, an expert in air quality and public health, and Associate Professor Paul Dugdale, a public health researcher and senior clinician at Canberra Hospital.

To find out more, or to participate in the study, please contact or


Updated:  18 November 2020/Responsible Officer:  Head of School/Page Contact:  CASS Marketing & Communications