Experts have assessed the lungs of people exposed to the Hazelwood coal fire in 2014. 

The 6-week-long fire at the Hazelwood coal mine exposed residents in the adjacent town of Morwell to high concentrations of fine particulate matter. 

The long-term health consequences of residents are being evaluated as part of the Hazelwood Health Study.

The assessment has found that people exposed to higher levels of particulate matter during the coal fire have worse lung mechanics, with each 10 μg/m3 increase in fine particle exposure linked to a drop in lung function comparable to an extra 4.7 years of ageing. 

The exports say the study is important because it shows a clear dose-response relationship between increasing mine fire fine particle exposure and worsening lung mechanics.

The study is accessible here.