Air pollution is an increasing problem in Fiji, with the major sources, mainly combustion, including energy generation for household needs (cooking), domestic refuse, agricultural and solid waste burning and transport. There is no air quality monitoring in Fiji and therefore it is not possible to assess the population’s exposure or to quantify the burden of disease attributable to air pollution.
Air pollution is expected to affect dis-proportionally young children who spend significant amount of time at home and close to combustion sources, with harm done at this age having lifelong consequences.
Understanding the local source contribution to the concentrations, exposures, and in turn burden of disease would be an invaluable insight for decision makers when considering transition to clean energy sources. This project builds on our team’s expertise gained through Lao PDR (Morawska et al., 2011; Mengersen et al., 2011) and Bhutan projects (Wangchuk et al., 2017), with the methods and technologies significantly enhanced.
The aim of our project is to assess through an experimental study, the exposure of young children residing in greater Suva, Fiji to air pollution, as well as the sources contributing to their exposure. We will also estimate the burden of childhood disease attributable to air pollution, and how transition to clean energy would mitigate it.
This project is supported by the National Health and Medical Research Council (NHMRC) Centres of Research Excellence (CRE), The Centre for Air pollution, energy and health Research (CAR) Seed Funding Grant and CAR Postdoctoral Fellowship, as well as the Queensland University of Technology.
Children under 5 years old, are being randomly selected for the study from 100 households from the greater population of Suva (including suburbs and the bordering cities: Lami, Nausori, and Nasinu, which has 40% of the country’s population). Eight state-of-the-art low cost KOALA (Knowing Our Ambient, Local Air) sensors, solar-powered real time air monitors developed by the International Laboratory for Air Quality and Health at QUT, are being used for monitoring air quality. The KOALAs have PM2.5 and CO sensors to capture emissions from combustion sources and from mechanical processes. For more information on how the KOALAs operate.
- Lidia Morawska, ILAQH, QUT
- Professor Bin Jalaludin, University of New South Wales
- Dr. Luke Knibbs, University of Queensland
- Dr. Tom Cole-Hunter, ILAQH, QUT.
- Professor Paul Jagals, UQ and Fiji National University
- Associate Professor Donald Wilson, Fiji National University
- Assistant Professor Amelia Turagabeci, Fiji National University
- A batch of low-cost air-quality monitors have been deployed by Dr Tom Cole-Hunter and Professor Lidia Morawska with colleagues at Fiji National University and World Health Organisation (WHO)’s Western-Pacific Regional Office in Suva, Fiji.
- A network of these monitors, established and piloted for the first time in the Pacific Island Countries, are recording two key pollutants related to smoke from biomass and fossil-fuel combustion (carbon monoxide and fine particulate matter). Information on these pollutants will provide a clear picture as to how clean or not the air there is, and how that changes with a transition to clean energy, for example, municipal electricity sourced from solar panels (as is potentially viable) rather than diesel generators (as is currently common).
- An Inaugural Stakeholders Workshop was conducted on the 27 September 2018 with the participation of representatives from the Ministries of Health and of the Environment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and several other parties, tilted: Assessing Environmental Health Risk and Impact of Air Pollution in Pacific Island Countries. A Consortium has been established including the key players. Energy transition was discussed, as the road to air pollution elimination. Our pollution/exposure measurement is the first step in this process!
- This work was shared by Professor Morawska with attendees at the WHO’s first Global Conference on Air Pollution and Health, held at WHO Headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland, at the end of 2018.
- Further, an Inaugural Stakeholders Workshop was conducted on the 27 September 2018 with the participation of representatives from the Ministries of Health and of the Environment, the World Health Organisation (WHO) and several other parties, tilted: Assessing Environmental Health Risk and Impact of Air Pollution in Pacific Island Countries. A Consortium has been established including the key players. Energy transition was discussed, as the road to air pollution elimination. Our pollution/exposure measurement is the first step in this process!
Funding / Grants
- NHMRC CRE, CAR Seed Funding Grant APP1116412 (2018 - 2019)