13 December 2019

NSW Health is again reminding people to be vigilant about their health as air quality affected by bushfire smoke remains poor in parts of Sydney and may worsen again in the coming days.

NSW Health Director of Environmental Health, Dr Richard Broome, said Sydney’s air quality has improved over the last two days, but people still needed to monitor the conditions and take action when the smoke returns.

“People with heart and lung conditions, young children and pregnant women may be more sensitive to smoke,” said Dr Broome. “I’d urge these groups to avoid vigorous outdoor activity on smoky days. It continues to be important for people with existing heart and lung conditions to follow their medical plans and keep their relieving medications close to hand.

“The best way to reduce exposure to smoke is to stay indoors with the doors and windows shut. Open doors and windows in clear periods to air out any smoke that may have leaked in.

“For the fourth straight week, presentations to emergency departments and/or calls for NSW Ambulance assistance for asthma or breathing problems continues to be higher than normal,” Dr Broome said.

From 5 to 11 December, emergency department presentations for asthma or breathing problems were higher than usual across NSW with 1,357 presentations, compared to the 5 year average of 916.

Ambulance calls for breathing problems were also higher than usual with 2,448 ambulance calls received, compared to the 5 year average of 1742.

Admissions to hospital from the emergency department for asthma and breathing problems were 556, greater than the 5 year average of 435.

On Tuesday 10 December, the days with very poor air quality across the whole of Sydney, there were 234 presentations to NSW emergency departments with asthma and breathing problems, which is almost twice the average number of 130.

Dr Broome said the smoke might cause no more that eye or throat irritation for most people, but these data show that those with known respiratory conditions, like asthma, need to be cautious when smoke is about.

In case of emergency always remember to dial Triple Zero. More information is available online at Bushfires and bushfire smoke.