More than 1000 people have been treated for asthma and breathing problems across the Sydney Metropolitan region associated with the poor air quality linked to the bushfires.
NSW Health data showed that between October 18 and October 22, 228 people attended etropolitan emergency departments with asthma, while 799 people were treated for breathing problems by ambulance officers.
Environmental Health Branch director Professor Wayne Smith said that during those five days the Office of Environment and Heritage measurements found air pollution across Sydney ranged from poor to hazardous.
“On Monday this week, which recorded the worst air quality since the fires started, there was a 124 per cent increase in the number of people observed with asthma conditions at hospital with 65 patients treated,” he said.
“On the same day, there was a 38 per cent increase in the number of people treated for breathing problems, with 193 patients assessed after an ambulance call out.
He reminded people to heed health warnings as fires continued to burn across the state.
“Smoke particles can cause a variety of health problems, such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation or runny nose and aggravate existing illnesses including bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
“NSW Health is also reminding people that children, older adults and people with heart and lung conditions are most susceptible to the effects of air pollution.
“The best way to avoid breathing in the smoke is to remain inside with the windows and doors closed, preferably in an air-conditioned building.
Professor Smith said it was important that asthma sufferers followed their asthma action plans and take their relieving medication where necessary.
“And if symptoms get worse, asthma sufferers need to seek medical advice.’’
Further information on maintaining health during bushfires can be found at http://www.health.nsw.gov.au/emergency_preparedness/weather/Pages/Bushfire.aspx