BEFORE AND AFTER: A Dorrigo reader sent these before and after shots of the smoke blanketing the rolling hills.
BEFORE AND AFTER: A Dorrigo reader sent these before and after shots of the smoke blanketing the rolling hills.

Air quality plummets prompting new health warnings

AIR quality has deteriorated significantly this week prompting renewed health warnings.

With a massive blaze to our west and many others to the north and south authorities have warned fine smoke particles can penetrate far into the lungs and enter the blood system.

Smoky air containing these particles can exacerbate asthma and other chronic lung conditions, be associated with lower birth weights and early delivery, contribute to heart attacks and even cause premature death.

RELATED:

Fire's devastating scale revealed

From drought to devastation

Nervous wait at evacuation centre

People sensitive to smoke are being urged to limit their exposure where possible and consider going to air-conditioned buildings such shopping centres and libraries, or temporarily spending time away from the affected area until conditions improve.

Bees Nest Fire: From the air the bushfire that has raged from the New England to Ebor and the Clarence Valley.
Bees Nest Fire: From the air the bushfire that has raged from the New England to Ebor and the Clarence Valley.

Residents should also minimise smoke inside their homes from other sources such as candles, incense burners and wood fired heaters. Ensure all windows and doors are closed tightly, especially at night when smoke pollution levels are usually highest.

The huge Bees Nest fire west of Dorrigo which has already burnt out over 80,000 hectares and there are several fires to our north in the Clarence Valley including one threatening homes in the Yamba area.

 

TO OUR NORTH: Taking to the air to fight the Shark Creek fire which has threatened homes in Angourie.
TO OUR NORTH: Taking to the air to fight the Shark Creek fire which has threatened homes in Angourie.

North Coast Public Health Unit Director Paul Corben said with the air-quality deteriorating significantly it could have potentially serious health consequences for people in higher risk groups, particularly in areas such as Port Macquarie where smoke has been present for eight weeks and around Dorrigo/Ebor, Drake and Angourie where fires are still burning.

"We very strongly advise people who are more sensitive to smoke, including those with respiratory or heart conditions, pregnant women and very young children, to take active steps to protect their health," Mr Corben said.

Firefighting air tanker : The Marie Bashir 737 Air Tanker tackles blazes in northern NSW.
Firefighting air tanker : The Marie Bashir 737 Air Tanker tackles blazes in northern NSW.

"People with chronic health conditions or who are experiencing symptoms should limit their exposure to the smoke, where possible."

While most healthy people are unlikely to experience problems with the smoke, it is very important that those with chronic health conditions keep their medication handy at all times. Anyone experiencing symptoms of repeated coughing, shortness of breath, wheezing, chest pain, palpitations or nausea should seek medical attention or call triple-0  in an emergency.

Mr Corben said if it looks smoky outside, stay indoors until the air clears and if you are outside, avoid strenuous exercise or heavy work.

Residents can download the AirRater smart phone app (airrater.org) to monitor air quality and environmental conditions and to track their symptoms.