Bushfire smoke, asthma, lung disease and masks – BREATHE, a research study in 2021

(BREATHE - Bushfire, Respiratory protection, Emphysema, bronchitis and Asthma Triggering Health Effects)


Do you have asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis?
Do you live in an area affected by bushfires or bushfire smoke

If you have answered yes to both these questions, you may be eligible to be part of the study.


What are we studying?

The aim of this research is to determine whether the use of surgical masks and P2 masks protects people with asthma, emphysema, chronic bronchitis or bronchiectasis from the effects of smoke exposure during bushfire season in Australia. We will compare exposure reduction methods, including surgical masks, P2 mask facemasks, and avoiding outdoor activities. There is no clinical efficacy data to support the choice and use of facemasks, P2 masks or staying indoors for protection against bushfire smoke. The Australian Medical Research Futures Fund has funded this study as part of an urgent call for research into the health effects of bushfires.

What will being in the study involve?

People who consent to be in the study will be randomly allocated to one of three groups: surgical masks, P2 masks or outdoor air avoidance. If allocated to a mask, they will need to wear a mask when exposed to bushfire smoke. They will be required to fill in a form at the start and the end of the study. Their health will be tracked during a maximum of 4 weeks around controlled backburning between August and November 2021 and through all of December 2021 and January 2022 this summer. A final period of follow up will occur from 1 April to 30 April 2022. Participants will receive air quality alerts as a trigger to wear their mask or avoid outdoor activities and fill in a short diary card each day. Masks will be posted to participants.

How can I find out more?

Please register your interest here.



If you have any further questions, please contact:

Dr Elizabeth Kpozehouen
Research Associate
Biosecurity Program
+61 435 579 012


Head, Biosecurity Program, and Professor of Global Biosecurity, Kirby Institute and NHMRC Principal Research Fellow
Header image: