Hazardous air quality alert issued as smoke from bushfires spreads

By | December 10, 2019

The numerical air quality rating for the region is 440, and while that’s better than the 1294 rating at 7am on Monday, it’s still ranks as ‘hazardous’ on the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) website.

At that level, the OEH advises that people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid exercising outdoors.

“Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion,” the alert stated.

“If you have symptoms rest and use your reliever medicine. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice.”

A severe fire danger risk and total fire ban also applies to Hilltops and Cootamundra-Gundagai council areas.

The largest fire currently burning in the region is the 319,000 Gospers Mountain bushfire burning north-east of Lithgow which is listed as being controlled.

The fire is burning between Newnes and Wisemans Ferry, Putty (St Albans) and Central Colo.

The NSW Rural Fire Service (RFS) said the fire remains active to the west of Comleroy Road, Kurrajong, east of Newnes and Glen Alice areas and near The Ovens and Olinda Valley areas.

“Firefighters are undertaking back burning east and west of Mountain Lagoon and between Wheelbarrow Ridge Road and the Colo River in the Central Colo Area,” the RFS said in a statement.

“Conditions in areas around this fire are expected to deteriorate on Tuesday.

If you see an unattended fire call triple-0 immediately.

Exposure and health effects

NSW Health say the most common symptoms experienced during a dust storm are irritation to the eyes and upper airways. People who may be more vulnerable than others are:

  • infants, children and adolescents
  • the elderly
  • people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
  • people with heart disease
  • people with diabetes.

Health precautions

The following precautions can help you protect yourself and minimise the adverse effects of a dust storm:

  • Avoid outdoor activity. If you must go outside, spend as little time outside as possible.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce exposure to dust particles. A P2 or P3 mask, available from hardware stores, should block even the finest particles if fitted correctly over the nose and mouth.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma, diabetes or a breathing-related condition.
  • Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed.
  • Stay in air-conditioned premises, if possible.

For emergency medical assistance call triple-0.

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Western Advocate – Health