Haze poses health risk

Haze poses health risk

 20 August 2008

published by www.cairns.com.au

Australia — Asthma sufferers are feeling the effects of a heavy smoke haze that has descended over Cairns’ northern beaches following controlled burn offs.

Doctors have warned elderly sufferers are particularly at risk while the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service says burn-offs are essential to reduce the fire threat.

Kewarra Beach resident Trudi Shearer said she woke at 1am yesterday barely able to breathe.

“I woke up literally choking and had to put my shutters down,” she said.

“It (the smoke) was that bad I even thought about getting in my car to find somewhere to go where it was not blowing.”

Abbott Medical Clinic doctor Garry Hartrick said asthma patients faced breathing problems as a result of smoke haze.

He said haze irritated the lining of the lungs and when someone had asthma, chronic bronchitis or emphysema, getting air into the lungs and oxygen into the blood was exacerbated by smoke.

Dr Hatrick said elderly people were particularly at risk.

A Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service spokesman said controlled burn-offs were essential.

“It’s going to be a bad fire season,” the spokesman said.

“We’ve had a good wet season but it hasn’t rained in the past month and there’s a lot of fuel on the ground.”

The spokesman said a number of people have permits to do burns.

However, wildfires were also deliberately lit on a median strip on the corner of Anderson and Fearnley streets and a fire illegally lit at Yarrabah and Red Hill last week.

Cairns Regional Council will conduct a burn-off at Mt Sheridan and QPWS is set to burn

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