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We must better prepare for hazard reduction burns

30 April 2019

Smoke from hazard reduction burns is causing unrest and widespread asthma in people across Sydney, with many saying they were caught out.  

While it’s considered an important activity to reduce fuel in bushland, Asthma Australia is advising that smoke and reduced air quality has adverse impacts to people’s health and more needed to be done.

60 year old Rhonda Daley a librarian who lives in Sydney’s western suburbs is now unwell with asthma caused by smoke and reduced air quality.

“This current method is putting lives at risk. Millions of people are being choked,” Ms Daley said.

“We need communication and monitoring systems before the fact, not after.  This is debilitating.”

“I pay for extra for asthma medications, I might need a day off work, but the government doesn’t reimburse people for that,” she said.

Ms Daley said she takes her preventer medication regularly but needed to administer a blue reliever puffer from fire smoke.

“This impacts everyone’s health and life. You can’t even do your washing.

“I used to live in Tasmania so I understand how devastating bushfires are and I hold firies in the highest of respect. But this, is something we can control and do better,” Ms Daily said.

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Spokesperson for Asthma Australia, Anthony Flynn said people with asthma and children were particularly vulnerable to reduced air quality.

“Children have small airways and any irritant like smoke can cause serious problems to their breathing,” he said. “We continue to experience the impacts of hazard reduction burns on people’s health.”

Asthma Australia said the hazard reduction burn season was just getting started, usually spanning autumn months.

The organisation hoping to get more action from authorities to better protect vulnerable people against health impacts caused by hazard reduction burns.

Asthma Australia is advising parents with children who have asthma to seek extra information on their website or call their free 1800 ASTHMA Helpline (1800 278 462) for support on how to prepare in the event of smoky conditions.

To know how to better prepare for hazard reduction burn and smoky conditions, visit Asthma Australia’s Hazard Reduction Burn webpage at www.asthmaaustralia.org.au

NSW Rural Fire Service has a free ‘Fires Near Me App’ to keep track of planned and current burns taking place in NSW.

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