Bushfires are creating smoky conditions across much of NSW and they may continue for some time. Smoke can affect children’s health and it is important to think about ways to reduce their exposure.
Smoke contains fine particles and gases known to cause health effects. Smoke generally causes relatively mild symptoms like sore eyes and cough, but can worsen asthma.
Children are more vulnerable to the effects of smoke because they spend more time outdoors engaged in physical activity, have developing airways and breathe more air relative to their body weight. Children with asthma may be more sensitive to smoke.
The Sydney Children’s Hospitals Network provides a range of resources for staff and parents on its Aiming for Asthma Improvement in Children website.
Air purifiers with a high efficiency particle air (HEPA) filter are able to reduce the number of fine particles indoors. For an indoor air purifier to work well, the purifier must be matched to the size of the room it is in and the room must be well sealed. Humidifiers, negative ion generators and odour absorbers do not remove fine particles.
Face masks – P2/N95 rated face masks can filter out the fine particles in smoke. However, they are not designed to fit children.
NSW Health information about bushfire smoke and health.