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Researcher

Dr Christine Theresa Cowie

My Expertise

Air pollution health effects

Exposure assessment in environmental health

Drinking water and recreational water and health impacts

Fields of Research (FoR)

Public Health and Health Services

Biography

I am an environmental epidemiologist and Senior Research Fellow with the UNSW South West Sydney Clinical School and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research (WIMR) and am affiliated with the NHMRC CRE Centre for Safe Air. My major research focus is in quantifying the health effects of air pollution exposures and developing appropriate tools for exposure measurement. I have a special interest in urban exposures including the health effects of...view more

I am an environmental epidemiologist and Senior Research Fellow with the UNSW South West Sydney Clinical School and the Woolcock Institute of Medical Research (WIMR) and am affiliated with the NHMRC CRE Centre for Safe Air. My major research focus is in quantifying the health effects of air pollution exposures and developing appropriate tools for exposure measurement. I have a special interest in urban exposures including the health effects of traffic related air pollution, and more recently, the effects of woodsmoke pollution, un unrecognised but highly significant urban source of pollution. Additional research interests also include the effects of indoor emissions from gas appliances, bushfire smoke and investigating the potential for health impacts associated with energy transitions.

I have a broad background in environmental health, encompassing research and teaching in the Master of Public Health (UNSW and University of Sydney), and policy implementation with the NSW Health Department for over a decade and environmental health research with a NSW Public Health Unit. My work with the NSW Health Department’s Environmental Health Branch (EHB) focussed on water quality and lead contamination issues and I established and managed the Water Unit within the EHB. This involved developing a new regulatory program for NSW Health when it assumed newly established regulatory powers over the Sydney Water Corporation and the Sydney Catchment Authority. It also involved a major restructure of NSW's drinking water monitoring program and laboratory resources to support the program. 

 


My Research Activities

I am currently project managing, conducting fieldwork and a CI on an NHMRC funded project - the Air Pollution, Mortality and Morbidity in Adult Australians (APMMA) Study. The APMMA Study is undertaking a large body of work in exposure assessment by modelling PM2.5 and NO2 across NSW using cutting edge exposure methods, and will apply these models to estimate exposure to one of the largest cohorts in the Southern Hemisphere, the 45 & Up Study cohort, comprising >265,000 participants. The APMMA Study will link health data for these participants to modelled air quality data to examine the relationship between long-term exposure to air pollution and adverse mortality and morbidity outcomes. This project has been driven by the need for epidemiological evidence at a national local setting and will complement recent overseas studies that have investigated health impacts of exposure to air pollution in low-level pollution settings. Together, recent evidence indicates that there is no lower threshold to the effects of air pollution. This study will provide much needed local evidence of air pollution exposure-response relationships which will contribute to policy and standards setting. 

Other current work includes development of a land use regression model for estimating NO2 for application to a birth cohort in western Sydney to investigate the effect of genetic polymorphisms on the relationship between air pollution exposure and respiratory outcomes. I have seed funding to conduct field monitoring of wood heater emissions in Sydney to determine the spatial and temporal changes in these emissions. This work was motivated by estimates from the Department of Planning, Industry and the Environment that wood heater emissions account for up to 50% of particulate matter across Sydney on an annual average basis, and that there is very little empirical data on this source for major urban cities like Sydney. I am also researching the extent to which current energy transitions policies and documents consider public health in their remit, and separately examining policies and practice in NSW related to waste to energy treatment plants.

I was awarded my PhD in 2013 for a thesis on the Air Quality and Respiratory Health Study (AQRHS) which investigated changes to air quality and health before and after opening of the Lane Cove Tunnel in Sydney.  


My Research Supervision


Areas of supervision

Air pollution epidemiology

Exposure assessment in environmental health

Health Risk Assessment

Environmental exposure impacts on health


My Teaching

Guest lecturing in air pollution epidemiology in the Master of Public Health.

Previously coordinated the Environmental Health subject in the MPH at The University of Sydney.

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Location

Ingham Institute of Applied Medical Research, Liverpool &
Woolcock Institute of Medical Research, Glebe

Contact

0411738528