Sharyn Gaskin

Dr Sharyn Gaskin

Senior Research Fellow

School of Public Health

Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences

Eligible to supervise Masters and PhD - email supervisor to discuss availability.

Dr Sharyn Gaskin is a Senior Research Fellow in the School of Public Health’s Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Unit. Her field of expertise is in Occupational & Environmental Health having a primary focus on industry partnerships and relationships, including defence and security–related applied research in occupational and community health.
Her research program explores the pathways and impacts of environmental and occupational hazards on human health and society, and leads to the development of effective interventions to control and prevent exposure to hazards. Her work aims to provide empirical evidence through applied research, translated into policy and practice to support the protection and promotion of human health. Much of her research involves both laboratory analytical methods and, importantly, ‘real-world’ field-based study design, to approach a research question. Every program of research conducted has included an important translation of evidence component into policy and practice for stakeholders.

Research Interests

Adelaide Exposure Science and Health Research Group

Our research interests primarily focus on Occupational and Environmental Health Science including industry-wide studies in healthcare, agriculture, manufacturing, emergency services and mining industries. We have expertise in public health, exposure science, environmental and medical epidemiology and we work closely with government and industry stakeholders. We work in the assessment and control of health hazards in workplaces and the environment including hazardous chemical management.

Research opportunities for students:

Research Project 1

Title:   Firefighter chemical exposures and cancer risk assessments.

Project Description: Firefighters are exposed to smoke and ash during training and emergency firefighting activities that contains chemical combustion products including toxic gases, particles and metals. Skin exposure occurs by way of smoke and gas infiltration through the hood, jacket, trousers and at interface regions of firefighter turnout gear or through cross transfer of contaminants from gear to skin. Of particular concern is the skin around the jaw, neck and crotch as these are areas where gear is most susceptible to penetration. Little is known about the subsequent effect of high temperatures on this dermal exposure process. This is a potential risk to firefighters as they are consistently exposed to these chemicals under high temperature conditions and for potentially lengthy periods of time.

This project will explore the skin exposure science of firefighters in order to understand health risks from skin exposure to toxic substances during firefighting activities. It will involve a mixture of laboratory and field based experimentation to determine the dermal uptake of known human carcinogens in smoke and ash under various conditions. The data generated will then be used to estimate cancer risk and inform recommendations around reducing future risk amongst this occupation.

Project available for: Honours / HDR / Masters / MPhil

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 2

Title:   Are there reproductive health effects from toxic chemical exposure through the skin? A review of the evidence for the flower industry.

Project Description: Students will participate in a number of practical activities relevant to occupational and environmental skin absorption of toxic chemicals. Lab work will involve hands on scenario-based scientific measurements of a range of industry relevant chemical exposures. Research papers and current research projects will be used to frame the learning. Scenarios and topics will be drawn from research in healthcare, defence, mining, agriculture and manufacturing industries. Students may have the opportunity to participate in field work or visits to relevant government agencies.

Project available for: Third Year / Honours

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 3

Title:   Understanding genotoxicity risks from reactive crystalline silica particles and associated resins in engineered stone fabrication.

Project Description: Inhalation of quartz-containing dust may lead to serious and irreversible lung diseases including cancer. Unfortunately, early detection of lung cancer is not feasible, and the pathology may only be evident some years after exposure. Thus, the key to prevention of lung disease is rigorous dust monitoring and control.

However, there are significant limitations to existing dust monitoring approaches, for example, it does not differentiate between freshly crushed and aged quartz dust. Freshly fractured crystalline silica is more toxic, and there is likely to be an under-estimation of the risk for workers undertaking particular tasks.

In order to gauge the potential risk underestimation and to target interventions, the proposed study seeks to better characterise silica genotoxicity for engineered stone fabrication processes through laboratory experimental studies. The ability of engineered stone dusts to cause changes to genetic material would be assessed via an 8-hydroxy deoxyguanosine assay. This assay has been previously applied to various forms of dust, including quartz, and is now considered a standard toxicological approach.

The results would help identify previously unrecognised situations of higher risk, particularly as they relate to freshly crushed/fractured quartz, and to identify where more stringent dust control measures are warranted.

Project available for: Honours / HDR / Masters / MPhil

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 4

Title:   Evaluating risk factors for occupational disease arising from dermal exposure to organophosphorus pesticides during agricultural use.

Project Description: Organophosphorus pesticides (OPs) are commonly used in the agricultural industry for the control of a wide variety of pests. The primary mode of action is acetylcholinesterase inhibition which causes over stimulation and subsequent prevention of nerve transmission. Whilst this makes OPs extremely effective against insects and other pests it also results in them being highly toxic for human health. There are a number of scientific papers that report on the toxicity of OPs. The primary route of exposure is via inhalation, however significantly less is known about the consequences of other potential exposure routes i.e. dermal exposure during the mixing and spraying of these pesticides in agricultural settings and the resultant risks for occupational disease. This project investigates the ability for selected OPs to penetrate human skin using donated human skin and an in vitro methodology. The data produced is able to be used to determine if dermal exposure to the OPs presents a significant risk for occupational diseases.

 Project available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters / MPhil

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 5

Title:   Emergency management of chemical exposure incidents affecting public health.

Project Description: Accidental or intentional toxic chemical releases may result in significant public health and psychological consequences. Management of exposed individuals during hazardous material (HAZMAT) incidents should be risk-based and supported by suitable scientific evidence base. The most serious hazard is from exposure to gases or vapours via the respiratory system. Dermal exposure, as an important secondary route of exposure, is still a concern most acutely for the unprotected public. This project is aligned with a program of work and involves selected literature reviews, the identification of knowledge gaps and the recommendation of a framework, protocols and experimental work for a selected range of toxic chemicals that may be encountered in a HAZMAT scenario involving the public.

Project available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 6

Title:   Development of an analytical technique for MOCA in biological samples.

Project Description: The chemical 4,4’-Methylene bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA) is used in manufacturing of polyurethane products. MOCA is classified as an A2, Suspected Human Carcinogen and has the potential to be absorbed through the skin. Health monitoring of workers for MOCA is required under work health and safety laws. This project is laboratory based and will involve development of an analytical method for the detection of MOCA in biological samples.  Occupational exposure to MOCA in industry is ideally assessed by biological monitoring to identify individuals with an absorbed dose.

Project available for: Honours / HDR / Masters

Location: AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 7

Title:   Indoor air pollution from 3D printers.

Project Description: 3D printers are becoming ubiquitous in schools, universities and industry (additive manufacturing). These printers are cost-effective for rapid and specialised fabrication. There is a wide variety of applications ranging from synthetic skin, medical implants and devices, architectural prototypes etc. Many different 3D systems exist and potentially emit toxic particles and vapours, especially in large scale or open printers. There is a need to understand the indoor air contaminant levels, especially in terms of time and space. The research findings will assist in the evaluation and design of ventilation systems and other forms of control. The project will entail a literature review and measurements in 3D printing labs in the University, and potentially in secondary schools.

Project available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters / MPhil

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


Research Project 8

Title:   Bioaerosols in the indoor environment: Understanding and managing occupational health risks.

Project Description: The majority of people spend most of their working time in office environments. The assessment of indoor work environments is important because it potentially involves a range of hazards such as chemicals, lighting, and indoor air quality issues. Bioaerosol contamination (such as fungi and moulds) of the indoor working environment is an increasingly common occupational health concern, yet there are limited published studies investigating typical office environments in Australia. This paucity of survey information limits the comparisons that can be made against measurements taken in workplaces that have indoor bioaerosol air quality issues. Exposure to airborne bioaerosols has the potential to exacerbate asthma, act as irritants and allergens and infrequently cause disease in susceptible individuals.

This project is part of a program of work exploring the working indoor environment and bioaerosol characterisation (identification and enumeration) and control (effectiveness of anti-microbial agents). It involves range of research approaches including field measurement, laboratory experimentation and engagement with regulatory bodies in the field of occupational health.

Project available for: Third Year / Honours / HDR / Masters / MPhil

Location: AHMS, AESH Lab (Thebarton)

Research project start: Semester 1 and 2


For details on projects available please view the following booklet: School of Public Health Student Projects


  • Appointments

    Date Position Institution name
    2017 Senior Research Fellow Occupational and Environmental Health, University of Adelaide
    2011 - 2017 Research Fellow & Occupational Hygienist (Consultant) University of Adelaide
    2009 - 2010 Postdoctoral Fellow Australian Antarctic Division, Hobart
    2005 - 2009 PhD candidate Flinders University
    2004 - 2005 Environment Officer, Site Contamination Environment Protection Authority (SA)
    2002 - 2002 Research Assistant, Dept. Environmental Health Flinders University
  • Awards and Achievements

    Date Type Title Institution Name Country Amount
    2017 Award Airmet Scientific Professional Advancement Award Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Australia
    2010 Award Thermo Fisher Scientific AIOH Conference Award (2010)
    2008 Award Outstanding Achievement Award for media release Flinders University
    2008 Award International Society of Microbial Ecology (ISME) Travel Grant
    2007 Award Flinders University research student conference travel grant
    2005 Award Australian Postgraduate Award (APA)
  • Education

    Date Institution name Country Title
    2005 - 2008 Flinders University Australia PhD in Environmental Health
    2003 - 2003 Flinders University Australia Honours Degree of Bachelor of Science (Awarded 1st Class)
    1999 - 2001 Flinders University Australia Degree of Bachelor of Environmental Health

Competitive Research Funding

Research Grants / Commissioned Projects

Date Project Investigators Collaborators Funding Body Funding



Risk-based Decision-making for Skin Decontamination for CBR Incidents – Phase 4 Sharyn Gaskin, Leigh Thredgold UoA, DSTG, QFES Australian Government (Defence) MOU with the US Government concerning Combating Terrorism Research and Development Grant $714,400



Increasing the understanding of skin absorption of chemicals in hot environments: establishing an evidence base for existing firefighting work practices. Leigh Thredgold, Sharyn Gaskin, Scott Hanson-Easey, Dino Pisaniello UoA, SAMFS, CFS, SES & QFES Bushfire and Natural Hazards CRC Tactical Research Fund $52,187
2018 Respirable crystalline silica exposures in engineered stone benchtop fabrication. Sharyn Gaskin, Richard Gun, Hubertus Jersmann, Dino Pisaniello UoA, RAH-Chest Clinic SafeWork SA WHS Commisioned Research $68,500

2017- 2018

Risk-based Decision-making for Skin Decontamination for CBR Incidents – Phase 3. Sharyn Gaskin, Dino Pisaniello

UoA, Qld Fire & Emergency Service, DSTG

Australian Government (Defence) MOU with the US Government concerning Combating Terrorism Research and Development Grant $1,043,198
2013 - 2016 Risk-based Decision-making for Skin Decontamination for CBR Incidents – Phase 2. Dino Pisaniello, Sharyn Gaskin UoA, Qld Fire & Emergency Service, DSTG Australian Government (Defence) MOU with the US Government concerning Combating Terrorism Research and Development Grant
2013 A regulatory framework for carcinogens: Development and trial of an evidence-based audit tool for cytotoxic drugs in hospitals.       Sharyn Gaskin, Dino Pisaniello, Michael Tkaczuk UoA, SafeWork SA SafeWork SA WHS Research Grant Program  $95,589
2012 Formative study of human exposure to zinc phosphide during the on-farm preparation of mouse baits (Phase 1).   Dino Pisaniello, Sharyn Gaskin, Michael Tkaczuk, Ganyk Jankewicz UoA, UoSydney GRDC Research Grant Program $191,500
2012 - 2013 Human exposure to zinc phosphide during the on-farm preparation of mouse baits (Phase 2).    Dino Pisaniello, Sharyn Gaskin, Tony Lower UoA, UoSydney GRDC R&D Open Tender $120,000
2011 Understanding and managing occupational health risks from fungal contamination in indoor environments.   Sharyn Gaskin, Dino Pisaniello, Richard Bentham UoA, SafeWork SA SafeWork SA OHSW Small Grants Programme $37,478
2011 Area of research/professional development: The influence of cosmetics on the skin absorption of chemicals amongst female workers Sharyn Gaskin UoA, SafeWork SA SafeWork SA Augusta Zadow Scholarship
2010-2011 Hazard surveillance for the primary prevention of occupational asthma: a national demonstration project Pisaniello D, Rothmore P, Stewart S, Crea J, Thaczuk M, Jankewicz G, Gaskin S UoA, SafeWork SA SafeWork SA WHS Research Grant Program  $157,479
Teaching & Supervision


School of Public Health, University of Adelaide

Postgraduate coursework 2019 PUB HLTH 7113 - Environmental and Occupational Health

Topic Co-ordinator (2018) for PUB HLTH Combined 0002 - Developing a Research Proposal (Sem 1&2)

Topic co-developer and 1/3 Module teaching in PUBHLTH 2008 Rural Australia: Health beyond the burbs, 2017-current.

Sessional lecturing and Tutoring/SGDE in the Bachelor of Health Sciences Degree program e.g. Public Health Theory and Practice III, PUBLHTH 1004 Flies, Drains and Ebola.

Supervision of PhD and Honours candidates and undergraduate student Internship projects (The Netherlands, France).


Recent Honours completion:       Caitlin Hobbs Dermal absorption of cancer chemotherapeutic drugs in a clinical setting. Completed 2017.


  • Committee Memberships

    Date Role Committee Institution Country
    2015 - ongoing Chair AIOH Newsletter Comittee Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienists Australia
  • Memberships

    Date Role Membership Country
    2016 - ongoing Member British Occupational Hygiene Society United Kingdom
    2011 - ongoing Member Clean Air Society of Australia & New Zealand (CASANZ)
    2010 - ongoing Member Australian Institute of Occupational Hygienist (AIOH)

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