UPDATE: TUESDAY 8AM
Tamworth's air quality has deteriorated overnight as fires continue to burn around the North West.
At 8am in the morning, the PM2.5 levels are at 262 while PM20 levels are at 194.
A reading of 200 or above is classed as hazardous.
The fire at Nundle has now burnt 772 hectares of land and is out of control while fires at Kaputar, Watsons Creek and Mulla Creek are being controlled.
UPDATE: MONDAY 2PM
The air quality in Tamworth has worsened slightly as the day wares on.
At 2pm, PM10 and PM2.5 - which are particles less than 10 and 2.5 micrometers in diameter - levels sit in the very poor range and hazardous range, according to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), at 189 and 211, respectively, on average over the past 24 hours.
Hunter New England Health urges people with respiratory conditions to take extra care as the bush fires around the region continue to burn.
"People are advised to take precautions and stay indoors to avoid irritations to the eyes, nose and throat, and to avoid aggravating existing lung and heart conditions," HNEH public health physician Dr David Durrheimm said.
"Older adults and people with heart and lung conditions are most susceptible to the effects of air pollution and excessive smoke."
Dr Durrheimm said there are some simple tips to help stay safe and healthy during the smoke/poor air quality:
- People with asthma, heart disease and other lung and heart conditions should avoid vigorous outdoor physical activity when smoke is around.
- Staying indoors with the doors and windows shut is an effective way of reducing exposure to smoke.
- People with asthma or a lung condition should follow their Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan and carry their relieving medication with them.
- If your symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice.
- In case of emergency always dial Triple Zero.
If smoky conditions are prolonged for several days or more:
- Keep doors and windows of your home closed while smoke is about and take advantage of any breaks in the smoky conditions to air out your home.
- If possible, spend some time in air-conditioning with the air-conditioner set to recirculate indoor air.
- Consider postponing outdoor events, especially sporting and other physically active events.
- Avoid indoor sources of air pollution like candles, incense, and wood burning heaters.
EARLIER: MONDAY 11AM
Air quality in Tamworth is at a hazardous level as fires burn around the region.
Four bushfires - at Nundle, Watsons Creek, Balala and Mulla Creek - are burning within an hour of Tamworth, blanketing the city in smoke.
PM10 and PM2.5 - which are particles less than 10 and 2.5 micrometers in diameter - levels sit in the hazardous and very poor range, according to the NSW Department of Planning, Industry and Environment (DPIE), at 197 and 202, respectively, on average over the past 24 hours.
These particles can cause a variety of health problems, such as itchy or burning eyes, throat irritation, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis. The smoke particles can also aggravate existing lung conditions, such as chronic bronchitis, emphysema and asthma.
PM10 and PM2.5 levels of 200 or above means the air quality is classed as hazardous.
Other PM10 and PM2.5 levels around the region at 11.45am read:
When air quality is at hazardous levels, the DPIE website recommends: "Everyone, especially people with heart of lung disease should avoid outdoor exertion and stay inside as much as possible. If you have symptoms rest and use your reliever medicine. If symptoms persist, seek medical advice."
The following precautions can help you minimise adverse effects of bushfire smoke:
- Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed, or stay in air-conditioned premises, if possible.
- Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma or a lung condition.
- Cover your nose and mouth with a mask designed to filter fine particles. Use a mask rated either P1 or P2. These are available from hardware stores. P2 masks are more effective in blocking the finest particles, however any mask has to be worn correctly over the nose and mouth to protect you.