The contribution of geogenic particulate matter to lung disease in indigenous children

Carrington C.J. Shepherd, Holly D. Clifford, Francis Mitrou, Shannon M. Melody, Ellen J. Bennett, Fay H. Johnston, Luke D. Knibbs, Gavin Pereira, Janessa L. Pickering, Teck H. Teo, Lea Ann S. Kirkham, Ruth B. Thornton, Anthony Kicic, Kak Ming Ling, Zachary Alach, Matthew Lester, Peter Franklin, David Reid, Graeme R. Zosky

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Indigenous children have much higher rates of ear and lung disease than non-Indigenous children, which may be related to exposure to high levels of geogenic (earth-derived) particulate matter (PM). The aim of this study was to assess the relationship between dust levels and health in Indigenous children in Western Australia (W.A.). Data were from a population-based sample of 1077 Indigenous children living in 66 remote communities of W.A. (>2,000,000 km2), with information on health outcomes derived from carer reports and hospitalisation records. Associations between dust levels and health outcomes were assessed by multivariate logistic regression in a multi-level framework. We assessed the effect of exposure to community sampled PM on epithelial cell (NuLi-1) responses to non-typeable Haemophilus influenzae (NTHi) in vitro. High dust levels were associated with increased odds of hospitalisation for upper (OR 1.77 95% CI [1.02–3.06]) and lower (OR 1.99 95% CI [1.08–3.68]) respiratory tract infections and ear disease (OR 3.06 95% CI [1.20–7.80]). Exposure to PM enhanced NTHi adhesion and invasion of epithelial cells and impaired IL-8 production. Exposure to geogenic PM may be contributing to the poor respiratory health of disadvantaged communities in arid environments where geogenic PM levels are high.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2636
Number of pages12
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2019


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