Protect your lungs during bushfire season: practical tips from lung experts - Institute for Respiratory Health

Protect your lungs during bushfire season: practical tips from lung experts

Thursday, December 21, 2023 | News

With summer in full swing, the dry and warm weather increases the risk of bushfires. A respiratory doctor and researcher emphasises the health risks of smoke exposure, particularly for individuals with lung conditions, older people and kids.

“During bushfire season, it’s crucial for the Western Australian community to be cautious and steer clear of bushfire smoke,” warns Professor Moodley from the Institute for Respiratory Health.

“Bushfire smoke has various components, but the real health threat comes from fine particulate matter known as PM2.5.

“This stuff can go deep into your lungs and get into your bloodstream. Exposure to PM2.5 is linked to increased use of asthma medication and more trips to the respiratory hospital emergency room.

“People with existing lung problems, older folks, children and outdoor workers are especially at risk. Recent research in China even suggests that long-term exposure to PM2.5 particles increases the risk of stroke.”

Professor Moodley said it was important the community protected itself.

“Staying indoors helps, but the level of protection depends on the building and its ventilation. Using air purifiers with HEPA filters is a good option as they are the most efficient.”

Here are practical tips for the Perth community to safeguard themselves:

  • Close windows and doors to minimize smoke indoors.
  • Avoid physical activity.
  • People with lung conditions should rest and stay away from smoke.
  • Those with asthma should follow their asthma plan.
  • If you have an air conditioner, set it to recycle or recirculate.
  • Stay informed with local news reports.
  • Have an emergency plan ready for evacuations or essential service loss during bushfires.

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