Health authorities have urged vulnerable Sydney-siders to stay inside as toxic smoke from hazard reduction burns in the Blue Mountains again blanketed the city on Wednesday.
The state health department advised residents to stay inside, close windows and avoid vigorous exercise.
NSW Health warned the smoky conditions could irritate respiratory systems and aggravate existing lung and heart conditions. Environmental health director Richard Broome said people with asthma, emphysema and angina were most likely to be affected.
— Glacus (@Glacus11) May 21, 2019
The NSW Office of Environment and Heritage reduced the air quality level in the harbour city to “poor” on Wednesday, for a second day, with Sydney-siders again waking to hazy conditions and a sharp smell of smoke in the air.
Burn-offs in the Blue Mountains are responsible for the smoky conditions. They have been halted to allow the air to clear, but the layers of smoke have remained as parts of the park continue to smoulder.
As forecast, smoke has again settled across the Sydney Basin. This smoke should start to dissipate from lunchtime. There will be no new burns within the Sydney Basin for at least the next 24 hours. For further information on hazard reduction burning, visit the #NSWRFS website.
— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) May 21, 2019
NSW RFS spokesman James Morris said the smoke was expected to linger for some time. In the meantime, the hazard reduction burns had been suspended, he said.
“We have postponed all burns for at least 24 hours while we get that smoke to push out and clear that air a bit,” he said on Wednesday.
“It’s very strategic to try to reduce that smoke and for minimal impact.”
NSW Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Stephen Stefanac said the hazy conditions would be at their worst in the morning because smoke had been trapped below a layer in the air overnight.
“In the afternoon it will thin out a bit, and in the evening. As we get a south-east wind change in the city, it will push the smoke inland to the west,” he said.