Picture: John Hawkins of Forestry burn-off smoke over Chudleigh

Tasmanians with asthma will be better prepared to limit their exposure to smoke in the air, with the launch of a new early warning system today by the Department of Public Health and
the Environment Protection Authority (EPA).

The Asthma Foundation of Tasmania (AFT) joined Deputy Director of Public Health Dr Chrissie Pickin and Director of the EPA Alex Schaap to inspect the new online service before it goes live later today.

The new notification system is specifically targeted towards Tasmanians who are at greater risk of harm from wood smoke, with precautionary advice released when smoke levels are elevated for just one hour.

Asthma Foundation of Tasmania CEO Cathy Beswick said AFT was involved throughout the development of the new online system as part of its ongoing efforts to warn people in the community who are susceptible to health effects of smoke.

“Our work with Public Health and the EPA in developing the new air quality system is a huge component of our overall purpose to help those living with asthma to take the necessary precautions to protect their health,” Ms Beswick said.

“All Tasmanians should be wary to limit their exposure to smoke, but this is especially important for infants (under 1 year), people over 65 years of age and those with heart and lung conditions, including asthma.

“Smoke is a year-round issue and is generated from a wide range of sources, including wood heaters, incinerators, bushfires, back-burning, burn-offs and regeneration burns.

“Regardless of where smoke comes from, the issue is it’s in the air and it is a concern, as there is actually no safe level of smoke for people with asthma.”

Ms Beswick said it was fantastic to see the results of significant research and collaborative work between AFT, Public Health, the EPA and the University of Tasmania.

“We are proud to have been involved in such a worthwhile project and are delighted with the outcome, which will greatly assist those Tasmanians living with asthma to better protect their health during smoke incidents,” she said.

Yesterday on Tasmanian Times: Wood smoke linked to deaths as Forestry Tas plots 245 autumn burns