AUSTRALIA – Sydney was shrouded in dangerous haze yesterday as smoke from bush fires along Australia’s eastern seaboard sent pollution levels soaring in the country’s biggest city.
Official data showed pollution had reached “hazardous” levels across Sydney, with the highest readings of PM 2.5 particulates in the city’s northwest reaching 186 parts per million on the air quality index – comparable to Delhi – and residents were warned to avoid outdoor exercise.
The usually blue skies of the harbour city turned a miserable grey, with world-famous landmarks the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge dulled against the skyline.
Although the smog had begun to ease under the midday sun, it would increase again, the Bureau of Meteorology said.
“Sydney is also known as the ‘big smoke’ and is living up to the nickname today,” the weather forecaster tweeted.
The New South Wales state environmental health director Richard Broome said the fine particles in smoke could irritate the respiratory system and aggravate existing lung and heart conditions.
“For most people, smoke causes mild symptoms like sore eyes, nose and throat,” he said.
“However, people with conditions like asthma, emphysema and angina are more likely to be sensitive to the health effects of smoke.”
Much of the smoke is being blown in from a huge out-of-control bush fire.
The fire is burning across two national parks just 100km northwest of central Sydney at the closest point. – AFP