Dr Dwan Vilcins

Air quality, environmentally persistent free radicals and respiratory health

Despite our relatively clean air in Australia, it has been found that large numbers of children live in areas that exceed the WHO air quality guideline limits. Our study explores exposure to air quality in early life and the risk of poor respiratory health in childhood. We focus on the role of air pollutants in inflammatory and oxidative stress responses, as well as understanding whether risk of adverse respiratory health is higher in children with a genetic susceptibility to oxidative stress. We further explore the role of environmentally persistent free radicals (EPFRs) though a human exposure study which aims to assess the presence of EPFRs in household dust, and to understand which household characteristics affect the level of EPFRs in the home. This study uses an environmental monitoring protocol to visit homes in Brisbane and collect information on air quality, EPFRs and child health.

Bushfire smoke from prescribed burns in Brisbane households

The use of prescribed burns as a hazard reduction tool in Australian bushfire management means that households living close to forests and national parks are exposed to periodic bushfire smoke in their homes. This project seeks to understand the following: the level of particulates in homes and ambient air as a result of prescribed burns; whether exposure is influenced by house characteristics; and the composition of particles present as a result of prescribed burning. This project involves fieldwork to install air quality monitors and collect samples of household dust and particulate matter, and would suit an honours student with an interest in environmental health.

Phthalates and allergic disease

There is an increasing body of evidence showing an association between plasticisers and allergic disease. Exposure to phthalates during pregnancy has been associated with increased risk of allergic diseases in resulting offspring. This study explores the association between phthalates and BPA measured in maternal urine during pregnancy, and the risk of allergic disease in children up to 4 years of age. Mediating factors will be explored, to test for potential casual mechanisms. Most notably the role of oxidative stress and genetic predisposition to oxidative stress will be explored as a potential modifying variable. This study is being conducted in collaboration with the Murdock Children’s Institute and uses data from the Barwon Infant Study, longitudinal cohort of children in Australia.

Dr. S. Rajamani

PBC Board Member and a Scientific member of Supreme Court Monitoring Committee in India on Hazardous waste management. Currently in association with National and International expert organizations on environment & occupational health is investigating the major remediation program of mercury pollution in South India. The unique remediation of mercury polluted soil and land by developing two stages process of water wash & retort are in progress. Polluted land will be developed with suitable supplements for plantation. As the Chief Principal Investigator developing the cleaner production program, improved chrome recovery and salt from industrial wastewater. He is the Chief Technical Investigator for integrated advance oxidation treatment for removal of colour and residual COD from wastewater utilizing ozone and membrane system, bio-energy generation from liquid & solid waste, development of decentralized secured landfill. Associated with the development of remediation program of Clean Ganga River Action Plan and Co-ordinate with the Asian International Environmental Forum for education, R&D and training programs on environmental protection, occupational health & safety.


Dr David Carpenter

PBC Emeritus Board Member and Principal investigator in a study that looked at levels of contaminants in farmed and wild salmon in eight regions around the world. The authors found significantly higher concentrations of four contaminants of great concern – PCBs, dieldrin, toxaphene and dioxins – in the farmed salmon studied. 

Dr Mariano Cebrian

PBC Emeritus Board Member and Scientist at Centro de Investigación y de Estudios Avanzados. (CINVESTAV) is currently involved in a project looking at the long-term effects of heavy metals on children’s health. The long term effects of chronic exposure to lead and other elements present in the environment surrounding smelters and mines are not well known. Dr. Cebrian and a team of researchers from Mexico and the United States are launching a prospective cohort study of children chronically exposed to lead, arsenic and other metals in Region Lagunera, an area in the central part of Northern Mexico containing the fourth largest nonferrous smelter complex in the world. Previous studies have identified high levels of both PbB and AsU in elementary school children in the area of the complex. The purpose of the study is to evaluate potential adverse health effects derived from exposure to metals and metalloids. The potential arms of the cohort include immunological, neurodevelopment, endocrine disruption, genotoxicity and cardiovascular endpoints. The project will also be used to help define what measures can be taken in the community to lower the impact of heavy metals to children (moving residents away from the smelter, cleaning dust, preventing dust emissions etc). The effect of the interventions on measured health effects will be evaluated.