DIRTY AIR ON RISE
The region has not yet reached the coldest days of winter, but already both Napier and Hastings have exceeded air-quality standards.
I began to realise that the (asthma) attacks happened when I didn't have access to fresh air. I was having trouble when people were burning stuff in their back yard or using fires. Hastings resident Rosie Marriott.
Hastings resident Rosie Marriott is unable to leave her home without wondering if she will be able to breathe properly.
Homes in her surrounding neighbourhood are cluttered with chimneys billowing smoke throughout the frosty evenings and Marriott believes the fires are the reason for her breathing issues.
Four years ago, a fairly normal day turned to terror when Rosie’s husband had to call an ambulance as she had trouble breathing.
“I was gasping. When I was in the ambulance they put the oxygen mask on me and asked if me if I was having an asthma attack. I said no. I didn’t even know what an asthma attack was as I never had asthma,” she said.
“They took me to the Emergency Department and oxygen was given to me for about an hour.
‘‘I fully recovered and then I was sent home, but then a week later the same thing happened.”
Marriott was visiting her friend further down the road who lives with a disability and had another attack.
“My friend asked me to get her washing in, it was around 5pm, everyone’s fire was going at full bore and it happened again.”
After two visits to the hospital, Marriott said staff suggested she may have allergies to something, but she began to work out it was the air quality which was affecting her breathing.
“I began to realise that the attacks happened when I didn’t have access to fresh air. I was having trouble when people were burning stuff in their back yard or using fires, so I rang the regional council time and time again.
“They sent a man around, he interviewed everyone around me who had solid wood fires and checked them, they were all compliant, but they were all belching out smoke.”
Marriot said having asthma and breathing problems had a serious impact on her day-to-day life and prevented her from doing activities.
“It has stopped me from doing what I want to do.
‘‘I have to return home if I can feel an attack coming on, or I feel a bit queasy.
“It takes the stamina away from you. Even if I want to do supermarket shopping there’s a lot of effort going into trying to breathe.
“There’s nothing you can do to combat it, the asthma attacks just come on and you can’t do anything.
“I try and avoid smokers — I have to ask people who smoke to move upwind from me, because it’s affecting me and I have to use my inhaler.
‘‘If I nip it in the bud the inhaler works but if I have an asthma attack I have to call the ambulance.”
Marriot said car fumes also set her off and if she became stuck in traffic she had to turn her air conditioning off to prevent an asthma attack.
She believes more education is needed around fires and what materials are appropriate to burn.
“From what I can gather, solid fuel is quite expensive, so people just burn what they can.
“Maybe you shouldn’t have to buy a fire without some sort of training — perhaps people giving advice on how its done,” she said.
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Rosie Marriott believes her asthma is due to smoke from inefficient solidfuel fires.