Some­thing in air to warn asth­mat­ics about burns

Kalamunda Reporter - - News - Sarah Brookes

WITH the smoke haze from pre­scribed burn­ing cre­at­ing po­ten­tially deadly con­di­tions for asth­mat­ics, a new warn­ing sys­tem is about to be launched that will alert peo­ple of im­pend­ing air pol­lu­tion events.

Asthma WA chief ex­ec­u­tive Ian Craig said the sys­tem would save lives.

“We’ve been work­ing for nearly 12 months with the Bureau of Me­te­o­rol­ogy, Parks and Wildlife, Depart­ment of Fire and Emer­gency Ser­vices, WA Health, and the Depart­ment for En­vi­ron­ment to de­velop this Aus­tralian-first alert sys­tem,” he said.

“We’re aim­ing to launch the sys­tem in June, which will give peo­ple 12 to 24 hours no­tice of an en­vi­ron­men­tal event, such as smoke haze.

“We want to let peo­ple know to­mor­row might be a bad day so they can im­ple­ment pre­cau­tion­ary mea­sures, such as clos­ing their windows and doors.

“I’m sure we’ll get it wrong at times but the times we get it right, we just might save a life.”

Mr Craig said there were plans to fur­ther de­velop the alert sys­tem to in­clude an SMS warn­ing.

“In WA, it is es­ti­mated there are 300,000 peo­ple with asthma,” he said.

“But we think this is the tip of the ice­berg.

“Dur­ing Mel­bourne’s thun­der­storm asthma clus­ter in 2016, 9000 peo­ple pre­sented to the emer­gency depart­ment and 40 per cent were un­di­ag­nosed asth­mat­ics.

“Asthma is the lead­ing cause of school work ab­sen­teeism here in WA and one Aus­tralian a day dies from asthma.”

Mr Craig said this time of year was par­tic­u­larly dif­fi­cult for asth­mat­ics.

“When there is tough con­di­tions such as over the past few weeks, we al­ways get ex­tra calls, in­clud­ing from par­ents who are hav­ing to think about whether they send their child to school or to play sport,” he said.

“Add in the fact the cold and flu sea­son is com­ing in, the east­er­lies are still blow­ing bring­ing dust and pollen off the land, you have pre­scribed burns, res­i­dents burn­ing off and the nights are get­ting colder so peo­ple are us­ing their wood-fired heaters.

“It all con­spires for a mis­er­able time of year for peo­ple with any res­pi­ra­tory ill­ness.”

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