Respiratory experts warn of indoor air pollution risks during winter - Institute for Respiratory Health

Respiratory experts warn of indoor air pollution risks during winter

Wednesday, June 26, 2024 | News

With the recent carbon monoxide poisoning of a couple in Perth, respiratory experts from the Institute for Respiratory Health are warning Western Australians about the dangers of indoor air pollution caused by burning woodfires and other pollutants this winter.

Indoor air pollution can be up to five times worse than outdoor air pollution, posing significant health risks. Professor Yuben Moodley from the Institute for Respiratory Health stresses the importance of clean indoor air, particularly as Western Australians spend up to 80 per cent of their time indoors.

“We know that burning wood and coal releases fine particulate matter (PM2.5), the most worrying form of air pollution for human health,” Professor Moodley said.

“Chronic exposure to particulate matter can lead to lung disease and certain cancers. We understand that there is a cost of living crisis but it’s crucial to consider less polluting fuel options to heat your home.”

Professor Moodley advises adopting safer heating practices to protect lung health:

  • Burn only dry, seasoned, untreated wood: This minimises the release of harmful particulates.
  • Wait for the fire to establish before adding extra fuel: Ensuring efficient combustion reduces smoke.
  • Use small or medium pieces of wood: Smaller pieces burn more completely, emitting fewer pollutants.
  • Consider alternative heating options: Improving the thermal efficiency of your home can reduce the need for heating and the associated pollution.

“One of the best things we can do to protect our lungs is to avoid using products that release harmful particulates and to ensure our homes are well ventilated,” Professor Moodley said.

The recent carbon monoxide poisoning incident serves as a critical reminder of the dangers associated with improper heating methods and indoor air pollution. By adopting safer heating practices and minimising exposure to harmful pollutants, we can protect our lung health and the health of our loved ones.

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