Mid North Coast residents are advised to take steps to protect their health as smoke from several bushfires burning across the region affects air quality.
Director of the North Coast Public Health Unit, Paul Corben, said fine smoke particles affect the human respiratory system and can aggravate existing chronic health conditions by penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the blood system.
"We urge people with chronic respiratory or cardiac conditions to be aware of the health effects of exposure to bushfire smoke and to take action to protect their health," Mr Corben said.
"Not everyone who is exposed to bushfire smoke will have health problems and most healthy adults will find mild symptoms such as eye, nose and throat irritation will clear without any long-term consequences.
"However, smoke exposure can lead people with lung disease or chronic bronchitis to develop shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, many days after smoke is inhaled. We recommend these people closely monitor their symptoms and follow their asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) action plan."
People sensitive to smoke should limit their exposure to the smoke, where possible, and consider going to air-conditioned buildings such shopping centres and libraries, or temporarily spending time away from the affected area until conditions improve.
Mr Corben said if it looks smoky outside, stay indoors until the air clears and avoid strenuous exercise or heavy work if you are outdoors.
"Symptoms can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled, so people with chronic respiratory and cardiac conditions need to be vigilant with their own medication or treatment programs," Mr Corben said. "If symptoms do not settle, contact your doctor."