Asthma alert as wood smoke levels increase

Asthma sufferers are being warned about wood smoke in Launceston. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

Asthma sufferers are being warned about wood smoke in Launceston. Picture: SCOTT GELSTON

WITH winter in Launceston comes wood smoke, and asthma sufferers are being warned to be vigilant as levels exceed national standards.

According to the Environmental Protection Agency, Launceston levels of PM2.5 - known as the best measure of wood smoke pollution - exceeded national reporting standards twice in the seven days to Thursday, July 3.

Asthma Foundation chief executive Cathy Beswick said she had seen a steady rise in high smoke alerts across the state, which was concerning for asthma sufferers vulnerable to the health effects.

"It should be highlighting to the public the importance of being a good neighbour when it comes to smoke," Ms Beswick said. "The particulate matter gets into the lungs, it causes respiratory distress, it can cause an asthma attack, it causes people to cough more and get short of breath.

"It can ultimately lead to worsening asthma conditions and we do still have death from asthma."

An EPA spokesman said the agency was working on a community education program on the negative impact of wood smoke, with Longford one of the focus areas. He said the program wasn't about fines or woodheater buy-back schemes, but how people used their woodheaters.

Tips include:

  • •After adding wood, burn fire on high for 20 minutes, especially before going to bed.
  • •Use only dry, well-seasoned wood in your heater.
  • •Don't smoulder - always burn with a flame.

For more specific health advice about wood smoke visit http:/ /www.dhhs.tas.gov.au/peh/alerts/air.

For updates on smoke levels in Tasmania, "like" Smoke Alert Tasmania on Facebook.

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