St George and Sutherland Shire residents share photos of 'apocalyptic' conditions

As St George and Sutherland Shire residents wake up to another day of poor air quality, residents have taken to Facebook to post their own eerie images of Thursday's apocalyptic conditions.

St George and Sutherland Shire residents have spent the past week choking through the smoky conditions caused by bushfires affecting parts of Sydney and NSW, which peaked on Thursday when Sydney's air quality index reached "hazardous" levels.

While the air quality forecast for Sydney today is "poor", an air quality alert updated at 10am today for the Sydney East again shows recordings at "hazardous" levels.

Poor air quality caused by smoke has the potential to cause serious health problems even among healthy people, while those with sensitivities or pre-existing conditions are most at risk due to the number of particles in the air.

P1 or P2 face masks, which can be purchased at chemists and hardware stores, may reduce exposure to the particles.

People should significantly cut back on outdoor physical activities, while those with sensitivities or health problems should completely avoid outdoor exercise.

Signs and symptoms of smoke irritation include itchy/burning eyes; runny nose; shortness of breath; headaches; irritated sinuses; throat irritation and a cough.

St George and Sutherland Shire residents took to the Leader Facebook page to share their experiences.

Nicole Wilson said two children had fainted at school this week while two others had vomited.

"My throat is so dry and itchy. Can't stop sneezing. It's awful," she said.

Cathy Mason wrote: "Hard to breathe at Kirrawee and soot on everything."

Pamela Antonios said her doctor had told her he had been "inundated with people having respiratory issues" and needing scripts for asthma medications.

Jillie Esdaile-Watts wrote: "As an asthmatic I'm really feeling it ... in spite of reliever and preventer puffers".

Jan Arentz said: "Eyes are watering, throat feels scratchy and breathing is somewhat laboured - and I only have mild asthma. I've never seen these conditions here before."

Many readers reported ash and leaves raining down on homes in St George and Sutherland Shire, despite being many kilometres from the nearest fire.

Wade Cattley said large pieces of burnt leaves and bark were falling in Engadine.

"It's incredible how far they've travelled from the fire ground," he said.

Coral Baldock wrote: "I just went to the corner shop and the ash is falling down like snow in Kirrawee. Windscreen covered when I got back in the car".

Lorraine Ratcliffe said the mixture of thick smoke and dust was "dreadful".

"A lot of people (including us) are staying indoors and many are wearing face masks in the street," she said.

NSW Health says he best way to avoid breathing in smoke is to remain inside with windows and doors closed, preferably in an air-conditioned building.

For more information about what the air quality index means click here