This year on World Environmental Health Day (September 26), the North Coast Public Health Unit is reminding us that the quality of the air we breathe can have an impact on our health.
North Coast Public Health Unit Director Paul Corben said we usually enjoy very good air quality on the Mid North Coast, so it only takes a small bushfire or a poorly operated wood heater for us to notice when the air quality is bad.
“Smoke may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions and can cause irritated eyes, coughing or wheezing,” said Mr Corben.
“While smoke can affect anyone, children, the elderly and people with conditions like angina, asthma or emphysema are most likely to be affected by wood smoke.”
When there is excessive smoke in the air from controlled burning or bush fires, people are advised to stay indoors, reduce heavy exercise, close windows and follow their individual health plans.
When using a wood burning heater for home heating, only dry, well-seasoned wood should be burned.
“It is important to adjust the air damper on the heater so there is sufficient air for clean burning,” said Mr Corben.
“People should ensure their wood heater’s chimney is cleaned regularly, and should not leave a fire smouldering overnight.”
“We also encourage anyone who smokes cigarettes at home to do so outside, to reduce your family’s exposure to the damaging effects of second hand tobacco smoke.”