Hazelwood health effects checked
A new study suggests the 2014 Hazelwood mine fire led to a spike in doctor visits by Latrobe Valley residents.
The Hazelwood Health Study, funded by the Victorian Government, found there were an extra 5,137 visits to GPs in the Latrobe Valley during the month-long coal mine fire.
Monash University researcher Yuming Guo attributes the increase in GP to the fine particles emitted by the coal fire.
“For [every] 10 microgram per cubic metre increase in coal mine fine particles, there was a 70 per cent increase in health service visitors, including 29 per cent cardiovascular services and 27 per cent respiratory services,” he said.
The study found an extra 1,429 mental health-related medications were dispensed during the period examined, as well as an additional 2,501 cardiovascular prescription medications and 574 respiratory medications.
The study will continue to monitor the long-term effects of the fire.
“Our study provided some evidence that the coal mine fire is a health risk in the Latrobe Valley,” Mr Guo said.
“In future we want to look at carbon monoxide, which is also a type of pollution, so we want to look at this type of pollution in the future.”