Parts of Western Australia are waking up to air quality as bad as some Indian cities on Thursday, and health authorities are warning residents to avoid exertion as smoke blankets the region.
The thick smoke appeared on Wednesday as the result of controlled back burning and affected Perth’s CBD and parts of the southwest.
According to the World Air Quality Index (WAQI), the air quality in Duncraig, north of Perth, was an “unhealthy” 192 at 3am on Thursday (local time), similar to levels in some parts of Delhi.
A healthy level of PM2.5, the particles that cause air pollution, is less than 50.
It comes after a bushfire warning for people in Gingin, north of Perth, was downgraded to watch and act on Wednesday night.
The Department of Fire and Emergency Services said the blaze was stationary but urged people to stay alert.
While there were burn outs in the area during the afternoon, the cause of the fire has not yet been determined.
According to the WAQI, the health implications of air pollution as bad as that of Perth could result in “everyone” beginning to experience health effects, while members of sensitive groups could experience more serious health effects.
“Active children and adults, and people with respiratory disease such as asthma, should avoid prolonged outdoor exertion; everyone else, especially children, should limit outdoor exertion,” the WAQI said.
The WA Department of Health said anyone who suffered from asthma, heart or lung problems should make sure they had five days worth of medication with them.
“Exposure to smoke from fires can worsen asthma and other respiratory conditions, cause coughing and shortness of breath and irritate the eyes, nose and throat,” Healthy WA said in a statement.
“Large particles in bushfire smoke irritate the eyes, nose, throat and lungs. The finer particles can penetrate deep into the lungs and are more harmful.”