Air quality alert: Hazardous rating for Central Tablelands

SMOKE HAZE: Hospitalisations have increased as residents choke through hazardous air quality. Photo: RENEE POWELL
SMOKE HAZE: Hospitalisations have increased as residents choke through hazardous air quality. Photo: RENEE POWELL

AIR quality in the Central Tablelands is more than double the prescribed 'hazardous' level and currently the worst in NSW.

At 7am on Thursday the numerical air quality rating for the region was 496 which ranks as 'hazardous' on the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE) website.

As almost 130 fires are burning across the state and plumes of smoke have been sweeping across the region for weeks.

The smoke has lead to an increase in emergency department presentations and hospitalisations, with NSW Ambulance confirming the service has been fielding an average of 70-100 calls a day statewide from people with respiratory issues.

Hospitals in the Western NSW Local Health District treated 70 people for respiratory issues on Monday and Tuesday this week.

At hazardous level, the DPIE advises that people with heart or lung disease, older adults, and children should avoid exercising outdoors.

Hospitals in the Western NSW Local Health District treated 70 people for respiratory issues on Monday and Tuesday this week.

"Everyone else should reduce prolonged or heavy exertion," the alert stated.

"If you have symptoms rest and use your reliever medicine. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice."

Meanwhile, there is a very high fire danger for the following council areas: Bathurst, Blayney, Cabonne, Cowra, Hilltops, Lithgow, Mid-Western, Oberon and Orange.

In Dubbo, Forbes, Parkes and Narromine the fire danger is listed as high.

A community meeting will be held on Thursday evening to discuss the ongoing Gospers Mountain bushfire situation.

POOR VISION: Smoke has blanketed Mount Panorama on Wednesday and air quality is at hazardous levels. Photo: DARREN FURNISS

POOR VISION: Smoke has blanketed Mount Panorama on Wednesday and air quality is at hazardous levels. Photo: DARREN FURNISS

Meanwhile the out-of-control Green Wattle Creek bushfire, continues to burn within 3.5 kilometres of Oberon Correctional Centre with inmates and staff already evacuated.

Stay up-to-date with fires in your area at Fires Near Me.

If you see an unattended fire call triple-0 immediately.

Exposure and health effects

NSW Health say the most common symptoms experienced during a dust storm are irritation to the eyes and upper airways. People who may be more vulnerable than others are:

  • infants, children and adolescents
  • the elderly
  • people with respiratory conditions, such as asthma, bronchitis and emphysema
  • people with heart disease
  • people with diabetes.

Health precautions

The following precautions can help you protect yourself and minimise the adverse effects of a dust storm:

  • Avoid outdoor activity. If you must go outside, spend as little time outside as possible.
  • Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce exposure to dust particles. A P2 or P3 mask, available from hardware stores, should block even the finest particles if fitted correctly over the nose and mouth.
  • Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma, diabetes or a breathing-related condition.
  • Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed.
  • Stay in air-conditioned premises, if possible.

For emergency medical assistance call triple-0.

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This story Hospitalisations rise as residents choke through hazardous air quality first appeared on Western Advocate.