As Canberra continues to be shrouded in bushfire smoke, an expert from The Australian National University (ANU) has released free factsheets on how to best protect yourself from its hazards.
Leading air quality and health expert Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis from the ANU Research School of Population Health has developed the fact sheets and says there is an urgent need for more comprehensive and balanced health protection advice as Australians deal with unprecedented levels of bushfire smoke and the probability that it will become a common summer occurrence.
“The existing public health advice on bushfire smoke is mainly tailored to brief air pollution episodes, typically lasting no longer than one or two days,” Professor Vardoulakis said.
“But this is not normal, and we need to urgently do more. People need to be able to access the best information out there simply and quickly.”
He said that in the current bushfire season, urban centres such as Canberra had been exposed to high levels of smoke over weeks and months and a rapid and well-targeted health protection response was required.
Bushfires and smoke had caused a lot of stress and anxiety in our communities, particularly among parents with young children, pregnant women, the elderly, and those with existing lung disease, heart disease or other chronic illness.
“The ANU factsheets provide the advice and practical tips urgently needed by people exposed to bushfire smoke in their daily lives for short and longer periods,” he said.
The information is designed to enable the public to make clear and informed decisions for dealing with our current and future hazy summers.
Professor Vardoulakis said he hoped the fact sheets would help people navigate the overwhelming cloud of information from health professionals, media and the public.
“These factsheets will clear a path for communities and people asking how they can plan daily life for the remainder of this unprecedented season and future summers,” he said.
“They aim to provide evidence-based advice on the most practical and effective ways for protecting our health, as well as resources for further information and public health action.”
The factsheets include information for those more vulnerable to the smoke, as well as for healthy individuals, and address topics such as being active, facemasks, mental health and medication plans.
Access the free factsheets from the ANU.