NSW bushfire smoke sparks health warning

NSW bushfire smoke sparks health warning

21 October 2013

published by http://news.ninemsn.com.au

Australia — More than 200 homes have been lost in fires west of Sydney since Thursday, and 59 fires were still burning on Monday morning.

NSW Health says many areas in the state are experiencing poor to very poor air quality, even hundreds of kilometres away from the fires.

The Australian Medical Association’s NSW president, Brian Owler, says heavy exercise should be avoided.

“The last thing you want to do is to go out for a jog when you’re breathing in such heavy pollution,” he told AAP.

Asthmatics should also ensure they have their puffers with them at all times, he added.

Professor Wayne Smith from NSW Health urged asthma sufferers to follow their asthma action plan.

“Fine particles can irritate the lungs of healthy adults, so it is best to avoid any prolonged outdoor exercise,” he said in a statement.

An Ambulance NSW spokesman said there had been a marked increase in the number of call-outs to people with respiratory problems since the fires broke out on Thursday.

“We expect to continue to see an increase,” he told AAP.

Prof Smith later told reporters that Sydney’s air quality is “hazardous” and will probably remain poor in the coming days.

He says there has been a “definite increase” in the number of calls made to triple-zero from people with breathing problems in recent days.

“We’re talking about people who are being taken by ambulances from the centre of Sydney, which is up to 100km away from bushfires,” he said in Sydney.

Campbelltown and Camden, in Sydney’s south-west, are among the worst affected in terms of air quality, Prof Smith added.

He also says there’s an increased risk of asbestos exposure, particularly near houses that have been burned down.

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