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Australia How to manage bushfire smoke health risks

01:30  19 november  2019
01:30  19 november  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

Terrifying moment Qantas plane is forced to abort its landing because of thick smoke from bushfires that have killed two and destroyed 150 homes

  Terrifying moment Qantas plane is forced to abort its landing because of thick smoke from bushfires that have killed two and destroyed 150 homes A passenger on a flight landing at Port Macquarie on NSW's mid-north coast, where two emergency level blazes continued to burn on Saturday, filmed their plane forced to attempt a 'go-around'.A Qantas plane has been forced to abort its landing due to thick smoke from bushfires that have killed two and destroyed 150 homes.

What's in bushfire smoke that makes it a health risk ? Bushfire smoke is a mixture of water vapour, small particles and gases, which may NSW Health Department says wearing a P1 or P2 mask (available at hardware stores) properly fitted over your mouth and nose will filter fine particles and

Bushfires and smoke pose health risks , especially to people with certain conditions such as asthma. Learn how to prepare for bushfires , get emergency Am I at risk of a bushfire ? How do I prepare for a bushfire ? Health risks associated with bushfires . How bushfire smoke can affect your health .

a close up of a waterfall: Bushfire smoke can travel hundreds of kilometres. (NASA Earthdata)© Provided by Australian Broadcasting Corporation Bushfire smoke can travel hundreds of kilometres. (NASA Earthdata)

You can be quite a long way from a bushfire and still have it affect your health.

Bushfire smoke can travel hundreds of kilometres and it poses a range of health issues — especially for those with pre-existing heart or lung conditions.

And because bushfire smoke can cover large areas, including major cities, it has the potential to affect millions of people, according to Martine Dennekamp, an adjunct epidemiologist at Monash University.

"Research has shown that air pollution from bushfires is associated with effects on the lungs and the heart," Dr Dennekamp said.

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The health effects of bad air have encouraged a booming industry in consumer items designed to minimise the For Floris, managing pollution has become a routine part of life and "is not defining our everyday We're already talking about how to better bushfire -proof regional homes. But how do we

The health effects of poor and hazardous air quality are real, and already being felt. Bushfire smoke is known to irritate the respiratory system, and contains fine particles that can travel deep into the lungs, causing damage. While most healthy people can tolerate temporary exposure air pollution (though it

"For example, research in Victoria found a link between out-of-hospital cardiac arrests in Melbourne and bushfire smoke."

These cardiac arrests occurred several hundred kilometres away from where bushfires were burning in the Victorian Alps.

What's in bushfire smoke that makes it a health risk?

Bushfire smoke is a mixture of water vapour, small particles and gases, which may include carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.

These gases travel long distances and are known to irritate the respiratory system, but evidence suggests it's the particles that are most damaging to people's health, according to NSW Health.

The smaller and finer the particles, the more damaging they can be because they're able to travel deeper into the lungs, Dr Dennekamp said, with particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres likely to cause the most significant concern.

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Health risks . Exposure to airborne particles in smoke may cause coughing, shortness of breath and respiratory irritation, as some particles are small Employees who are sensitive to bushfire smoke should initiate their personal treatment plan, which may include reviewing it with a medical practitioner.

After several weeks of smoke exposure from nearby fires , some bushfire -affected areas of the country are finally breathing in some slightly fresher air

Symptoms caused by these particles can continue for days after they are inhaled.

Who is at risk?

Those most likely to be affected by bushfire smoke include:

  • People with existing heart or lung conditions, such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and chronic bronchitis
  • Pregnant women
  • Older people
  • Young children

Environmental health expert Fay Johnston from the University of Tasmania said it was important for all of these people, especially those with heart and lung conditions, to monitor their symptoms when exposed to smoke and for some days after.

How does smoke affect you?

Those in high-risk groups are going to feel any effects of bushfire smoke more than the general population.

"If you can see it or smell it then that means there is a significant amount in the air and people in high-risk groups would be advised to try and minimise their exposure," Dr Johnson said.

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smoke from bushfires may pose risks to some. The study will be conducted by Monash University, people's health . planned burning season will examine the health Bushfire Cooperative Research Centre and the. impacts of smoke pollution in regional communities Victorian Department of Health

Exposure to smoke from fires can worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions, cause coughing and shortness of breath and irritate the eyes Large particles in bushfire smoke irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. The finer particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and are more harmful.

For instance, people with asthma may experience wheezing, coughing, chest tightness, and difficulty breathing while the smoke is around and for some days after.

Healthy people tend to tolerate being exposed to this type of pollution, although it can cause itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and some coughing. But these symptoms usually pass once the person is no longer exposed to the smoke.

What can you do to reduce your chances of being affected?

For those in areas affected by bushfire smoke, but not under direct threat from the fires, experts recommended the following precautions to reduce the health effects.

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

Particle levels are likely to be higher outdoors than indoors, so people sensitive to fine particles should limit the time they spend outside.

Keep an eye on your local air quality by checking your local environment monitoring agency's website for advice.

Avoid bringing smoky air into your house. If you have the option of adding a filter to your air conditioner, do so.

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Bushfires are creating smoky conditions across much of NSW that may continue for some time. Smoke can affect people’s health and it is important Steps to decrease risk from bushfire smoke . Follow your doctor’s advice about medicines and your asthma management plan if you have one.

" Smoke from bushfires is very irritating to parts of lungs and for people in higher- risk groups it doesn't take a lot of smoke to cause significant symptoms. Tasmania's Director of Public Health Mark Veitch said the elderly and those with chronic medical conditions Managing asthma in smoky conditions.

Pictures: Bushfires leave devastating trail across NSW

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - NOVEMBER 13: General view of a destroyed home following bushfire damage on November 13, 2019 in Rainbow Flat, Australia. Catastrophic fire conditions - the highest possible level of bushfire danger - have eased across greater Sydney, Illawarra and Hunter areas thanks to a slight cool change, however dozens of bushfires are still burning. A state of emergency, as declared by NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian on Monday, is still in effect, giving emergency powers to Rural Fire Service Commissioner Shane Fitzsimmons and prohibiting fires across the state. (Photo by Sam Mooy/Getty Images)

But take advantage of periods of clean air to ventilate your home, as smoke still penetrates indoors and can take time to disperse unless the house is opened up.

Portable air cleaners, available from home electrical stores, will lower the concentration of indoor particles and reduce the risk of health impacts from smoke. They will work best in a well-sealed room.

Dr Johnson recommended air cleaners with a HEPA filter to provide protection from particles.

"Devices that only humidify, generate negative ions, or absorb unpleasant smells do not reduce airborne particles," she said.

Dr Johnston said it was a good idea to avoid exercising outside when you can see smoke in the air.

"If you run or do physical activity you breathe in a lot more because you need to get a lot more oxygen in, so your ventilation increases 10-fold and that means you are increasing your pollution exposure 10-fold."

People with asthma — and other health conditions — need to make sure they have any medication they need on hand at all times.

The Victorian health department recommends having five days of medication on hand. Those an asthma action plan or other treatment plan should continue to follow it.

If your symptoms get worse, seek medical advice.

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NSW Health Department says wearing a P1 or P2 mask (available at hardware stores) properly fitted over your mouth and nose will filter fine particles and minimise the effects of bushfire smoke.

But Dr Johnson said these masks weren't a failsafe.

"They give some protection against smoke particles but are only effective if worn correctly with a good seal around the mouth and nose; they can make it harder to breathe and they do not filter out gases," she explained.

"Simple paper or cloth masks do not provide protection."

If the smoke continues for some weeks, or if a person's health means they're at higher risk because of smoke exposure, consider staying with friends or relatives outside the smoke-affected area.

At Microsoft News Australia we've partnered with the giving platform Benevity to raise funds for Australian Red Cross, St Vincent De Paul Society and The Salvation Army; these organisations are helping communities across the country devastated by bushfires. You can help these organisations by donating here and for the latest news and RFS links visit Bushfire emergency.

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