Poor air quality from bushfire smoke sparks health warning

Health warning: Air quality across Sutherland Shire and St George is poor today because of bushfires burning in NSW. Picture: Chris Lane
Health warning: Air quality across Sutherland Shire and St George is poor today because of bushfires burning in NSW. Picture: Chris Lane

St George and Sutherland Shire residents are being urged to stay indoors today due to poor air quality caused by smoke from NSW bushfires.

The NSW government said Sydney's air quality was poor today due to smoke from fires burning in northern NSW.

A poor air quality rating is unhealthy for people who are sensitive and could cause symptoms in people with heart or lung diseases.

And there are fears the problem could worsen if today's catastrophic fire conditions spark blazes in and around Sydney.

NSW Health warns that smoke can cause health problems, particularly for those with pre-existing lung or heart conditions such as asthma, emphysema, angina or heart failure.

"Bushfires can result in a large amount of smoke particles in the air, even great distances from the fires," says NSW Health.

"The best way to avoid breathing in the smoke is to remain inside with the windows and doors closed, preferably in an air-conditioned building."

People should avoid outdoor physical activity, particularly if they have a pre-existing condition such as asthma. Those with asthma should follow their management plan and make sure to have reliever medication close by.

"If you are having trouble breathing, go to an emergency department or ring triple-0 for an ambulance," NSW Health says.

NSW Ambulance says people with respiratory issues can be the first to feel the effects of smoke while even healthy adults and children can suffer lung irritation as a result of heavy smoke.

"These conditions can have a serious impact on your health and it is important to remember that our bodies have to work extra hard to cope or cool down," NSW Ambulance says.

"Ensure you stay hydrated and pay particular attention to any symptoms (dizziness, headaches, racing pulse or nausea) of heat-related illness."

Those in fire-affected areas should wear eyewear and loose clothing to protect skin and be aware of potential hazards such as embers, falling debris, damage to surroundings and reduced visibility.

NSW Ambulance says treat burns immediately with cool running water (if available) for at least 20 minutes and seek medical attention.

Those with pre-existing medical conditions are also reminded to ensure they have medications with them at all times, and take them with them if evacuating.

For more information about maintaining your health during bushfires click here: