Protect your lungs during bushfire season
Summer is in full swing and the dry and warm weather means there is an increased risk of bushfires. A leading respiratory doctor and researcher has warned exposure to smoke from bushfires is a health risk especially for those with lung conditions, older people and kids.
“The Western Australian community will need to be vigilant and avoid exposure to bushfire smoke,” Professor Moodley fron the Institute for Respiratory Health said.
“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.
“The long-term effects are still being researched with a recent study in China reporting long-term exposure to PM2.5 particles being linked to an increased risk of stroke.
“The World Health Organization estimates ambient air pollution contributes to 4.2 million premature deaths globally per year.
“More research is needed in this area to know the real long-term health impacts and to increase our knowledge to improve our health and wellbeing.”
Professor Moodley said it was important the community protected itself.
“Staying inside provides some protection against bushfire smoke, but the degree of protection depends on the type of building and importantly, its ventilation,” Professor Moodley said.
“One option to improve the quality of indoor air is to use air purifiers. Look at purifiers with a HEPA filter – these are the most efficient.”
Other ways the Perth community can protect themselves:
- Close windows and doors to minimise smoke in your home or office.
- Avoid physical activity.
- People with lung conditions should rest as much as possible and keep away from smoke.
- People with asthma should follow their asthma plan.
- Switch your air conditioner (if you have one) to recycle or recirculate.
- Stay up to date with local news reports.
- Have your emergency plan ready in the event of an evacuation or the loss of essential services (such as power loss) during bushfires. For more details on preparing a bushfire plan visit – wa.gov.au/service/community-services/emergency-services/prepare-your-bushfire-plan