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Children's exposure to dust (PM10) and metals in Perth

Children's exposure to dust (PM10) and metals in Perth

Researchers from Edith Cowan University, ChemCentre, BHP and the University of Queensland are conducting a study investigating children’s exposure to dust (particulates) and metals in Perth. The aim of the study is to see how much dust children are exposed to and whether they are also exposed to metals. Inhalable particulate matter (PM10) concentrations in ambient air are known to impact the health of children. There is debate about the significance of the source and composition of particulate matter (particularly metal components of PM) to health outcomes. There are few studies that have investigated exposure to PM10 and its metals components nor determined the significance of metals from this source in children. This study will provide a benchmark for personal exposure PM10 concentrations for Australian children and will be the first study of its type in Australia to investigate the significance of PM as a source of metals. The study is recruiting children aged 7-12 years in and around the areas of Duncraig, South Lake and Caversham.

Background information

Dust is made up of many elements and other material, depending on its source. There are many different sources of dust such as traffic, bushfire smoke and industry. In areas of Perth common sources of PM10 are bushfire smoke and building activity. Different sources of PM10, including soil based PM10, can contain metals.

Why are we investigating dust and metals?

We know that dust and PM10 levels can be high at certain times of the year. However, we don’t know if children breathe in PM10.

If children are exposed to PM10, then we would also like to know if they are also exposed to metals in the dust. PM10 in other parts of the world has been shown to affect health, mainly lung and heart problems; however it is not clear whether PM10 in Perth is high enough to affect the health of children. By measuring exposure we can assess the likelihood of this.

We would like to recruit 100 children aged 7 to 12 years old in and around the areas of Duncraig, South Lake and Caversham to join this study. Please call or email us to take part. Participating in the study is completely voluntary. We will give all participating families their child’s individual results, as well as an overall summary of the findings.

What is involved?

Children will wear an “active particulate sampler” for a 24 hour period. This is a small pump, to be carried in a backpack, and an air sampler that measures dust.

Children will also be asked to provide a morning urine sample, a small sample of hair and fill out a questionnaire and an activity diary with parents.

How will it help me?

This research will provide important information on whether dust presents increased health risks to those exposed. The benefit to participants is if we find levels are high in some areas, we can also advise on ways to reduce exposures. On a larger scale, the research provides information for air quality managers on sources that might need to be further controlled.

If you are interested in participating, or would like more information, please contact the study coordinator, Karyn Concanen on 1800 655 398 or email


Associate Professor Andrea Hinwood
Dr Anna Callan
The University of Queensland, Professor Peter Sly

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