29 May 2018

Poor air quality across much of the Sydney basin today, particularly Western Sydney, has prompted NSW Health to warn people with respiratory conditions to limit time spent outdoors.

People with respiratory conditions such as asthma are urged to stay indoors as much as possible while hazard reduction fires are conducted around Sydney.

Director of Environmental Health Dr Ben Scalley said people should avoid vigorous exercise and, if possible, stay in air-conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce smoke particles in the air.

“Symptoms can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled, so people with the chronic respiratory conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs,” Dr Scalley said.

“Fine smoke particles are known to affect the human breathing system. The smaller or finer the particles, the deeper they go into the lungs.

“These particles can cause a variety of health problems, such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

Dr Scalley said people with asthma or a lung condition who develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, should follow their Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan.

“Smoke may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause irritated eyes, as well as aggravate existing lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

“If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice. If you are on home oxygen treatment, continue as prescribed and if breathlessness worsens, contact your doctor.

“Healthy adults may also feel the effects of fine particles that can irritate the lungs, so it’s wise to reschedule or cut back on prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when smoke levels are high.

In case of emergency always remember to dial triple zero. For more information, visit Bushfires and bushfire smoke.