What happens when you inhale bushfire smoke

As horrific fires continue to surge through the country and more towns evacuate by the day, the home doctorexperts at House Call Doctor have reminded people to stay clear of bushfire smoke.

The smoke haze blanketing parts of NSW and Queensland has had significant impact on our air quality. Due to recent windy conditions, the smoke has travelled considerable distance quickly, meaning it’s having anaffect not only those in the bushfire zone, but people many kilometres from the flames.

What happens if you inhale bushfire smoke?

Exposure levels will vary widely from the site of the fire to 10 or 50 kilometres away from the source, but when people inhale fine smoke particles, the negative effects on the human breathing system are considerable.

Some of the negative effects consist of:

  • Itchy/burning eyes
  • Throat irritation
  • Runny nose
  • Aggravation of existing health conditions
    • chronic bronchitis
    • emphysema
    • asthma

Smoke makes breathing uncomfortable, and it can be deadly for some.Asthma symptoms are heightened if the sufferer is exposed to smoke, which can cause fatal repercussions.

While most adults find that any symptoms they experienced during a bushfire event clear after the smoke disappears, it’s worth being conscious of your normal breathing pattern and monitoring how you are feeling. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice immediately and If you have asthma or any other lung-related conditions and you develop shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, follow your asthma or COPD action plan immediately.

Air quality standards

The national standard for clean air in Australia is less than 8 micrograms/m³ of ultrafine particles. This is among the lowest in the world, which is good news for those who live here as studies have shown there is no safe level of air pollution. As pollution levels increase, so too do the health risks.

In many ways, airborne pollution is like cigarette smoking – causing respiratory disease, heart disease and stroke, lung infections, and even lung cancer.For ​further information, call 1300 066 055 to talk to your local Public Health Unit or get in touch with your local GP.