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.

Hawke's Bay Today - - Front Page - Ge­or­gia May Gil­bert­son

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.

WATCH THE VIDEO on­line at hbto­day. co.nz

Photo /Dun­can Brown

Rosie Mar­riott be­lieves her asthma is due to smoke from in­ef­fi­cient solid­fuel fires.

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