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Hydrogen sulphide study launched in Rotorua

Wednesday 2 April 2008

Hydrogen sulphide study launched in Rotorua

Researchers from the University of Otago, Wellington, the University of California and Stanford University have started recruiting participants in Rotorua for the largest ever international study of the possible health effects of hydrogen sulphide gas. This is the gas that causes Rotorua’s distinctive geothermal smell.

Randomly selected participants are being contacted through the Rotorua General Practice Group and an initial 50 letters inviting participation have gone out. The study expects to involve 1800 participants.

Meanwhile, the CHEERS study has set up its research headquarters in the Rotorua International Stadium. CHEERS stands for Community Hydrogen Sulphide Exposure and Effects: the Rotorua Study.

The new research offices will be opened by Rotorua Mayor, Mr Kevin Winters, on Thursday April 3 at 11am.

Leaders of the New Zealand/American research team, Professor Michael Bates (UC, Berkeley) and Professor Julian Crane (University of Otago Wellington) will describe the innovative research project, which will run over the next four years to determine if there are any health effects from breathing low levels of hydrogen sulphide over the long term.

Five staff, including an optometrist,are currently being trained in research techniques by scientists and clinicians, some from the United States. The aim of the research is not only to investigate the general health effects of hydrogen sulphide, but also to determine if the current occupational and environmental exposure standards for hydrogen sulphide are adequately protective, or whether they need to be modified.

The study is being funded by the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences.


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