The North Coast Public Health Unit is advising all residents to protect their health as smoke from bushfires in the north of the state are affecting air quality. People with respiratory and cardiac issues in particular are being urged to stay indoors.

Fires scattered across the region are affecting air quality. Depending on prevailing winds, smoke from Southern Queensland is also affecting air quality in the region.

Fine smoke particles can affect the human heart and respiratory system and can aggravate existing chronic health conditions by penetrating deep into the lungs and entering the blood system.

Assistant Director of the North Coast Public Health Unit, Greg Bell, said the fine particles could cause various health problems such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis.

“We urge people with chronic respiratory or cardiac conditions to be aware of the health effects of being exposed to bushfire smoke and to take steps to protect their health,” Mr Bell said.

“Not everyone who is exposed to bushfire smoke will have health problems and most healthy adults will find symptoms clear without any long-term consequences.

“However, smoke exposure can lead people with lung diseases like asthma or chronic bronchitis may develop shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, possibly even days after smoke is inhaled.

“We recommend these people closely monitor their symptoms and follow their asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) action plan.”

People sensitive to smoke should avoid strenuous outdoor activity while it is visibly smoky and can reduce their exposure by staying indoors with the doors and windows shut.

“Symptoms can occur for several days after smoke is inhaled, so people with chronic respiratory conditions need to be vigilant with their own medication or treatment programs,” Mr Bell said.

“If symptoms do not settle, contact your doctor.”

In the event of an emergency, always remember to dial Triple Zero (000) and always follow directions and advice provided by Emergency Services.

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