An early flowering season, a high pollen count rising to very high on Monday, temperatures forecast to rise to 28C and an extensive program of hazard reduction burns has prompted Asthma Foundation NSW to issue a general warning to the 800,000 people in NSW who live with asthma.
Fire authorities have warned that winter rains added fuel to grassland regions and now warm temperatures and low rainfall are drying it out, creating an above-normal fire potential for the 2013-14 fire season in NSW. Roughly one-third of NSW is already classed as a High fire risk after almost the whole State recorded a rainfall level below or very much below average during August.
To counter this threat the Rural Fire Service (RFS) has already started an extensive program of hazard reduction burns right across the State producing wood smoke that can trigger asthma symptoms or an attack.
‘While wood smoke poses a health risk for asthmatics and people with other lung or respiratory conditions, the hazard reduction work that the RFS does now is vital to protect property and lives during the warmer months when bushfires are a threat,’ said Michele Goldman, CEO of Asthma Foundation NSW.
‘The one-in-ten adults and children who live with asthma should be aware that exposure to wood smoke could make asthma symptoms worse and trigger a potentially fatal attack.
‘We should always be mindful that asthma claims the lives of over 400 Australians each year.’
Weather patterns no longer seem to be conforming to old seasonal norms and neither it seems is nature. One of the warmest winters on record has produced a very high pollen count after only a week of spring.
‘Scientists have warned that one of the side-effects of global warming may be that plants will have longer or more than one flowering season,’ said Ms Goldman.
‘Pollens, which are drawn up into the atmosphere and distributed by wind and thunderstorms, are a major concern because 80 per cent of asthmatics also have allergies. Allergies trigger asthma attacks in 60-90 per cent of children and in 50 per cent of adults.’
Keep track of pollen levels via the Asthma Foundation NSW website www.asthmaaustralia.org.au