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Early life exposure to coal mine fire and tobacco smoke affect subclinical vascular function
  1. Bing Zhao1,
  2. Fay H Johnston1,
  3. Tierney O’Sullivan1,
  4. Grant J Williamson2,
  5. Shannon Melody1,
  6. Marita Dalton1,
  7. Alison Venn1,
  8. Kazuaki Negishi1,3
  1. 1 Menzies Institute for Medical Research, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  2. 2 School of Natural Sciences, University of Tasmania, Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
  3. 3 Faculty of Medicine and Health, Nepean Clinical School, Charles Perkins Centre Nepean, University of Sydney, Penrith, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Professor Kazuaki Negishi, Nepean Clinical School, The University of Sydney, Penrith, NSW 2751, Australia; kazuaki.negishi{at}


Objective To evaluate whether vascular health in young children was associated with exposure to a 6-week episode of coal mine fire smoke or environmental tobacco smoke (ETS) in a retrospective cohort study.

Methods Three years after a coal mine fire in Victoria, Australia, we investigated the vascular health of children either in utero (n=75) or aged <2 years (postnatal exposure, n=96) at the time of the fire. The outcomes were the carotid intima-media thickness (IMT) and pulse wave velocity (PWV). The mean and peak daily particulate matter <2.5 µm in diameter (PM2.5) exposures were estimated based on their daily locations throughout the fire period. Multivariable linear regression models were used to test for associations between the fire-related PM2.5 and outcomes adjusted for relevant covariates including ETS.

Results In the postnatal-exposure group, each 10 µg/m³ increase in mean PM2.5 level was independently positively associated with PWV (β=0.116, p=0.028). When these two groups were combined, there was an association between mean PM2.5 and increased PWV in those children who had ETS exposure (β=0.148, p=0.033) or whose mothers smoked (β=0.151, p=0.011), but not in those not exposed to ETS or maternal smoking.

Conclusions Three years after a coal mine fire, infants aged up to 2 years at the time of exposure have increases in vascular stiffness. Although no adverse effects were observed in the in uterus exposure group, further follow-up study is needed to elucidate the long-term effects of coal mine fire smoke exposure.

  • air pollution
  • coalmine fire smoke
  • maternal smoking
  • vascular disease
  • environmental tobacco smoke

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  • Contributors All authors involved in the design and planning of the study. Participant recruitment was conducted by FHJ and MD. BZ, TO'S, GJW, SM and KN involved in data collecting, processing and reporting. BZ drafted the first manuscript. FHJ, SM, MD, AV and KN revised the entire manuscript critically. All authors approved the final version for publication. KN is guarantor for the study.

  • Funding This study was funded by the Victorian Department of Health and Human Services.

  • Disclaimer The paper presents the views of the authors and does not represent the views of the Department.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Ethics approval The study was approved by the Tasmanian Health and Medical Human Research Ethics Committee (reference H14875). Additional approval was received from the Human Research Ethics Committees of Monash University, Monash Health and the University of Melbourne.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement Data sets used for the current study are securely held by Latrobe ELF study and cannot be shared by the authors. Relevant and only anonymised data can be available from project manager on reasonable request.