How does bushfire smoke affect our health?
New South Wales and Queensland are in the grip of a devastating bushfire emergency, which has tragically resulted in the loss of homes and lives.
But the smoke produced can affect many more people not immediately impacted by the fires – even people many kilometres from the fire. The smoke haze blanketing parts of NSW and Queensland has seen air quality indicators exceed national standards over recent days.
Studies have shown there is no safe level of air pollution, and as pollution levels increase, so too do the health risks. Air pollution caused nine million premature deaths globally in 2015. In many ways, airborne pollution is like cigarette smoking – causing respiratory disease, heart disease and stroke, lung infections, and even lung cancer.
However, these are long-term studies looking at what happens over a person’s life with prolonged exposure to air pollution. With bushfire-related air pollution, air quality is reduced for relatively short periods.
But it’s still worth exercising caution if you live in an affected area, particularly if you have an existing health condition that might put you at higher risk.
Read the full story on The Conversation: How does poor air quality from bushfire smoke affect our health?