In May 2019, the City of Sydney experienced five days of hazardous air quality due to smoke from planned hazard reduction burns in the Blue Mountains National Park.
Smoke is a trigger for asthma and can seriously impact the health of those with respiratory and heart conditions.
Bushfire smoke produces significant amounts of PM2.5, very small particles which penetrate deep into the lungs and can enter the blood stream. It can be highly dangerous to the health of vulnerable people, particularly children and the elderly.
By launching a Sydney Smoke Impact Survey Asthma Australia gained valuable insight into the health impacts of hazard reduction burn smoke on Sydneysiders with asthma.
The Sydney Smoke Impact Survey attracted responses from more than 500 people over a one-week period, shortly following the smoke inundation.
The Survey targeted people with asthma and their carers living in the affected area and was promoted through Asthma Australia’s email and social media networks, and mainstream media.
The Survey asked people about the impact smoke was having on their asthma, how they responded, how their general lives and livelihoods were impacted and what they thought could be improved to better protect their health.
The responses showed worrying results, indicating that over 20% of respondents were sick for more than a one-week period, and many people were hospitalised or presented to Emergency Departments.
View the Sydney Smoke Impact Survey Results here.
What we’ve done with the results
In July 2019, Asthma Australia Executive Members and a consumer representative met with the New South Wales (NSW) Minister of Police and Emergency Services, The Honourable David Elliot MP, to highlight the Survey results. The meeting was positive and an announcement will follow in the near future about outcomes from the meeting.
Asthma Australia has also consulted with the NSW Rural Fire Service about the Survey Results and will continue this proactive working relationship towards improving outcomes for people with asthma.
Keep updated on our progress. Get added to our Australian Hazard Reduction Burn Advocacy mailing list below.
One of our key advocacy goals at Asthma Australia is to challenge the status quo for people with asthma when it comes to the health impacts of hazard reduction burn smoke. This is a problem for people with asthma right across Australia, in each state and territory.
We aim to work with key authorities and policy makers to better represent and protect the health and wellbeing of people with asthma by influencing hazard reduction burn planning, protocols and implementation processes.
Whilst we have commenced field work in Sydney, we are actively attending key conferences and meetings in other states regarding prescribed burn smoke impacts on health.