Take care: bushfire smoke still about

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

NSW Health Director ofEnvironmental Health, Dr Richard Broome, said Sydney’s air quality has improvedover the last two days, but people still needed to monitor the conditions and takeaction when the smoke returns.

“Peoplewith heart and lung conditions, young children and pregnant women may be moresensitive to smoke,” said Dr Broome. “I’d urge these groups to avoid vigorousoutdoor activity on smoky days. It continues to be important for people withexisting heart and lung conditions to follow their medical plans and keep theirrelieving medications close to hand.

“Thebest way to reduce exposure to smoke is to stay indoors with the doors andwindows shut. Open doors and windows in clear periods to air out any smoke thatmay have leaked in.

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

From5 to 11 December, emergency department presentations for asthma or breathingproblems were higher than usual across NSW with 1,357 presentations, comparedto the 5 year average of 916.

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

Admissionsto hospital from the emergency department for asthma and breathing problemswere 556, greater than the 5 year average of 435.

OnTuesday 10 December, the days with very poor air quality across the whole ofSydney, there were 234 presentations to NSW emergency departments with asthmaand breathing problems, which is almost twice the average number of 130.

Dr Broome said the smoke might causeno more that eye or throat irritation for most people, but these data show thatthose with known respiratory conditions, like asthma, need to be cautious whensmoke is about.

In case of emergency alwaysremember to dial Triple Zero. More information is available online at: http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/bushfire -smoke.aspx

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