Air pollution and the ethics of wearing facemasks

Associate Professor Fiona McDonald

Air pollution is a topical issue in this country and in many places around the world, and disasters involving severe air pollution episodes create a pressing public health issue. Health agencies and governments may face pressure during such emergencies to provide solutions to help protect affected communities. One possible intervention to reduce exposure to air pollution during such crises is facemasks.

Associate Professor Fiona McDonald has led an international team of researchers who have developed a framework to support ethical decision-making on whether governments and health agencies should recommend or provide facemasks to the public.

The ethical framework consists of eight questions that could be raised during air pollution disasters. The researchers argue that clarity around decision-making by governments and health agencies, after using this framework, may help increase trust about the intervention and solidarity within and between populations affected by these disasters and the agencies who provide assistance during air pollution events.

You can read the research paper in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Reduction.

About Fiona McDonald

Fiona is an Associate Professor in the Faculty of Law and a Co-Director of the Australian Centre for Health Law Research. Fiona’s research encompasses issues related to health governance and has four broad themes:

  • the governance of health and systems (with a focus on rural bioethics and disaster response);
  • the governance of health technologies;
  • the governance of health professionals; and
  • the governance of health organisations.

Fiona’s work has been published in a range of international journals and she has presented at a number of international conferences. You can read more about Fiona in her staff profile.

Dr Evan Hamman to research at the Smithsonian

Dr Evan Hamman

Leeanne Enoch, the Queensland Minister for Environment and the Great Barrier Reef, Minister for Science, and Minister for the Arts, has announced Dr Evan Hamman from the QUT School of Law as a recipient of a Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowship. Evan will work with the Smithsonian Migratory Bird Centre (SMBC) in Washington DC and other leading law and science academics in the US.

Evan will research how Queensland can develop effective legal and policy protections for land birds migrating within the Australo-Papuan region, an area which includes Queensland, Papua New Guinea, East Timor and Indonesia.

The SMBC has considerable expertise in the ecology and conservation of song birds, especially those that migrate between North, Central and South America. Evan will work with these researchers to better understand how the concept of migratory connectivity can be operationalised as a central component of an effective governance response in Queensland.

We congratulate Evan and wish him continued success with his research.

About Evan Hamman

Evan is a Lecturer in the QUT School of Law. He holds Bachelor degrees in law and commerce and a Masters degree in environmental science and law. Evan has worked for NGOs and the Queensland Government on conservation and environmental law issues.

His current research focuses on environmental issues in the Asia-Pacific region including migratory species, Ramsar wetlands, World Heritage areas and the Great Barrier Reef.

You can learn more about Evan and his research and publications in his staff profile.

About the Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowships Program

The program is open to employees of Queensland-based research, educational or cultural agencies. Funding of up to $25,000 is available for successful applicants. The 2020 round of the Queensland-Smithsonian Fellowships Program is open now and closes on 9 March 2020.