21 November 2018

NSW Health is urging people to be aware of the health risks of dust storms as a large dust storm is forecast to move across NSW, potentially affecting Sydney and the east coast.

Winds are forecast to carry dust from western NSW across the state on Thursday, bringing high dust levels to the east coast. Air quality in the Sydney basin could be poor for Thursday and possibly extending into Friday.

Director of Environmental Health Dr Richard Broome said it was especially important for children, older persons, and people with chronic respiratory and cardiovascular conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease to limit their time outside and not engage in vigorous exercise during a dust storm.

“If possible, stay in air-conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce dust particles in the air,” Dr Broome said.

“Dust may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and cause symptoms like eye irritation and cough.

“Symptoms can occur for several days after dust is inhaled, so people with the chronic conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs.

“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.

“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 dust levels are high.

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

In case of emergency always remember to dial triple zero. For more information, visit Dust storms.