28 January 2020
The bushfires and smoke haze that have affected many Australians this summer have brought extra risks for people with asthma, due to smoke, ash and stress.
The asthma risk isn’t over when the fire has passed. People with asthma and allergies should take extra care if returning to homes near bushfire zones.
Returning to an affected area
When returning to a fire-affected area, the local emergency services are the place to start for safety information.
Properties that have fire damage may contain serious health hazards. The Better Health Channel’s safety tips include important information about dangerous materials that may be present after a fire, such as asbestos, ash from treated timber and chemicals.
Bushfire smoke can cause poor air quality and travel long distances, depending on weather conditions.
Once air quality improves, it’s time to open doors and windows for ventilation. The Environment Protection Authority Victoria has information to help with cleaning up a smoke-affected home.
Cleaning products can be an asthma or allergy trigger for some people, especially products that contain harsh chemicals. Read our factsheet for information about Volatile Organic Compounds.
Asthma inhalers left in homes that reached high temperatures may need to be replaced, as extreme heat can affect the medication.
Pharmacists can help with questions about medication storage and safety, and take medicines for disposal through the Return Unwanted Medicines initiative.
Some parts of Australia have also experienced heavy rainfall. Mould is a common asthma trigger that thrives in humid environments.
Read our factsheet for tips on cleaning and managing mould.
- Where to find health information in your state
- Australian Government Department of Health bushfire information and support
- P2 masks are designed to filter out PM2.5 particles, but they must fit correctly to be effective and aren’t suitable for everyone. People with respiratory conditions should speak with their doctor before using a P2 mask. Read more: Advice on the use of masks for those exposed to bushfire smoke