What is up with Australian air right now?
Less than a year ago, it was so pure Aussies were selling it to China in goddamn cans.
But since that ridiculous entrepreneurial endeavour in May, things have kind of gone to shit. Melbourne had their tragic, world’s worst episode of thunderstorm asthma in November, and now New South Wales Health has issued a warning for fucking toxic ozone gas?
— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) January 9, 2017
Created through a mix of high temperatures, still weather, and air pollution, these excess levels of harmful ozone are being reported in Sydney’s western suburbs.
Ozone is the colourless, pungent gas created by car exhaust and industrial fumes, and while it’s normally flushed away by winds, it can become a respiratory hazard on still days like today.
As you might remember, it’s also the stuff that inhibits harmful ultraviolet rays in our stratosphere (and the thing we’re currently depleting thanks to increased air pollution).
NSW Health issued the aforementioned warning for anyone with respiratory problems, such as asthma, to exercise caution around western Sydney.
Their Director of NSW Health’s Environmental Health Branch, Dr Ben Scalley, also stressed that ozone levels are higher outdoors than indoors and that parents should limit the time their children with asthma play outside appropriately:
“Ozone levels reach their peak around 7pm in the evening and tend to be lowest in the morning, so it’s best to plan outdoor play in the morning when the day is cooler.”“Asthma sufferers need to follow their Asthma Action Plan and take their relieving medication where necessary. If symptoms get worse, asthma sufferers need to seek medical advice.”
And as we wrote in our guide to protecting yourself during thunderstorm asthma, prevention can also include things like carrying an inhaler, disposable dust masks, and DIY castor oil packs. However, anyone having trouble breathing should call 000 immediately.
Scalley also mentions that people can arrange to have air quality alerts sent to them via SMS or email through the Office of Environment and Heritage website and subscribing to air quality index daily forecasts.
Photo: Matt Blyth / Getty.