Journal article

Using Digital Technology to Protect Health in Prolonged Poor Air Quality Episodes: A Case Study of the AirRater App during the Australian 2019-20 Fires

Sharon L Campbell, Penelope J Jones, Grant J Williamson, Amanda J Wheeler, Christopher Lucani, David MJS Bowman, Fay H Johnston

FIRE-SWITZERLAND | MDPI | Published : 2020


In the southern hemisphere summer of 2019–20, Australia experienced its most severe bushfire season on record. Smoke from fires affected 80% of the population, with large and prolonged exceedances of the Australian National Air Quality Standard for fine particulate matter (PM2.5 ) recorded in all major population centers. We examined if AirRater, a free smartphone app that reports air quality and tracks user symptoms in near real-time, assisted those populations to reduce their smoke exposure and protect their health. We distributed an online survey to over 13,000 AirRater users to assess how they used this information during the 2019–20 bushfire season, and why it was helpful to aid decisio..

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Funding Acknowledgements

The first author is supported through the Australian Postgraduate Award and the Antarctic Climate and Ecosystems Cooperative Research Centre (ACE CRC). AirRater is a free public health intervention financially supported by the University of Tasmania and various state government agencies (Tasmanian Department of Health, ACT Health and the Northern Territory Environmental Protection Authority). AirRater acquires health data with the user's explicit consent in accordance with human ethics approvals.