07 Jan What is in bush fire smoke?
Given the extent and media coverage of the current bush fires in Australia, we thought medical services may face questions from concerned patients across Brisbane. Thankfully there are plenty of online resources to reference to.
The Environment Protection Authority Victoria and Queensland health have some information available on their website that details what is in bush fire smoke:
- Bushfire smoke is a mixture of differently sized particles, water vapour and gases, including carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and nitrogen oxides.
- Fine particles and gases in bushfire smoke are small enough to be breathed deep into the lungs and can cause health effects.
- The larger particles which are visible to the eye contribute to the visible haze when a fire is burning. They are generally too large to be breathed deeply into the lungs but can irritate the nose and throat.
Websites can be found here:
Its also available in multiple languages: https://www.healthtranslations.vic.gov.au/bhcv2/bhcht.nsf/PresentDetail?Open&s=Bushfire_smoke_and_your_health
Some other key points and recommendations:
- Encourage patients (especially those at higher risk) to reduce their exposure by:
- Avoiding outdoor physical activity when they can see or smell smoke.
- Staying indoors with windows and doors closed when it is smoky. Sealing doors and windows with sheets or towels and setting air-conditioners to recirculate can be beneficial.
- Spending time in air conditioned public places like libraries and shopping centres.
- Taking advantage of smoke-free periods to air out houses.
- Avoiding using indoor sources of air pollution like candles and incense sticks
- People with a heart or lung condition, including asthma, children (up to 14 years), pregnant women and people over 65 years of age are more sensitive to the effects of breathing in smoke.
- If you have a heart or lung condition, take your medication as prescribed. Asthmatics should follow their personal asthma action plan and keep reliever medication on hand.
- If you or anyone in your care is experiencing symptoms that may be due to smoke exposure, call NURSE-ON-CALL on 1300 60 60 24 or seek medical advice.
- Anyone experiencing difficulty breathing, wheezing or tightness in the chest should seek urgent medical assistance – call 000.