Bushfire smoke threat to Western Australian lives - Institute for Respiratory Health

Bushfire smoke threat to Western Australian lives

Wednesday, February 09, 2022 | News

Associate Professor Yuben Moodley a respiratory doctor and researcher at the Institute for Respiratory Health has warned exposure to smoke from the increase in bushfires across Western Australia could lead to a spike in health diseases down the track.

“I’m particularly concerned about the devastating fire in Bridgetown,” said Associate Professor Yuben Moodley.

“Residents could be exposed to heavy metal contamination with pine logs being treated with the preservative copper chromium arsenate.

“Exposure to chromium dust irritates the lung’s airways and can cause coughing, wheezing, asthma, chronic bronchitis and even lung, nasal or sinus cancer. Community members will need to be extremely vigilant and ensure that there is no risk before returning to their properties.

“And even when they return, they will need to avoid sifting through the ash as this can still be dangerous.”

Associate Professor Yuben Moodley said 2022 had to be one of the worst bushfire seasons on record.

“The Western Australian community will need to be vigilant and avoid exposure to bushfire smoke as it’s a health risk.

“It contains hundreds of different components, however it’s the fine particulate matter that is the main public health threat. Known as PM2.5, it can penetrate deep into the lungs and be absorbed into the bloodstream.

“Exposure to PM2.5 is associated with increased use of asthma medication and respiratory hospital emergency admissions.

“People with an existing lung condition, older people children and people who work outside are particularly vulnerable.”

Associate Professor Yuben Moodley said there wasn’t a lot of research into the effects of long-term smoke pollution and that more monies needed to be invested in the area to save lives and ensure Western Australians have access to information during high pollution events.