North Shore blaze prompts NSW Health warning

Take care: The North Coast Public Health Unit is urging people to take care while smoke from a large bushfire burning north of Port Macquarie is affecting air quality across parts of the area. Photo: Helen McGee
Take care: The North Coast Public Health Unit is urging people to take care while smoke from a large bushfire burning north of Port Macquarie is affecting air quality across parts of the area. Photo: Helen McGee

Fine smoke particles are known to affect the human breathing system. The smaller or finer the particles, the deeper they go into the lungs.

These particles can cause a variety of health problems, such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

The smoke particles can also aggravate existing lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.

Director of the North Coast Public Health Unit, Paul Corben said smoke particle levels are likely to be higher outdoors than indoors, so people sensitive to fine particles should limit the time they spend outside.

“People with asthma and other lung conditions should not engage in vigorous exercise and, if possible, they should stay in air-conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce smoke particles in the air,” Mr Corben said.

“Symptoms can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled, so people with the chronic respiratory conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs.

“If you have asthma or a lung condition and you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, follow your Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan.

“If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice. If you are on home oxygen treatment, continue as prescribed and if breathlessness worsens, contact your doctor,” Mr Corben said.

“Healthy adults may also feel the effects of fine particles that can irritate the lungs, so it’s wise to reschedule or cut back on prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when smoke levels are high. Healthy adults generally find that symptoms will clear after the smoke disappears.”

In case of emergency always remember to dial triple zero.