Media release: Major health groups declare bushfire smoke a public health emergency


 

Doctors for the Environment Australia is today joining a coalition of Australia’s major health and medical groups in declaring hazardous air pollution from bushfire smoke in  Sydney and other areas in NSW a public health emergency. The groups are also linking the fires to climate change.    

The organisations that have issued an urgent  joint statement include Doctors for the Environment Australia (DEA), Royal Australasian College of Physicians (RACP), Australasian College of Emergency Medicine (ACEM), Lung Foundation Australia (LFA), Thoracic Society of Australia and New Zealand (TSANZ), Climate and Health Alliance (CAHA), Public Health Association of Australia (PHAA), Australian Nursing and Midwifery Federation (ANMF), as well as 14 other groups.   

Spokesperson for DEA and emergency specialist Dr Lai Heng Foong says bushfires fuelled by worsening climate change have produced an unprecedented level of air pollution.  Last week, readings shot up to 11 times the base “hazardous” level in parts of Sydney and NSW, impacting millions of Australians. 

 “This level of air pollution is a public health crisis- we have seen a rise in emergency hospital presentations,  and air pollution is linked to diseases throughout life, including premature births, low birth weight babies, impaired lung development in children, asthma, heart disease, stroke, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and lung cancer. 

 “Ash from the bushfires is also polluting water supplies. 

 "The NSW and QLD bushfires are a sign of what’s to come. In the coming summers, we can expect not only a bushfire season, but a smoke haze season. 

 “As health professionals, we demand that the federal government takes a nationally coordinated approach to addressing climate change, the biggest and most urgent health crisis facing us. The Government must also adequately prepare health services’ capacity to respond to extreme weather events such as bushfires."

Media contact
Dr Lai Heng Foong

For interviews please contact Carmela Ferraro, Media and Communications Coordinator, 041 070 3074

About DEA
DEA is an independent organisation of medical doctors protecting health through care of the environment http://dea.org.auWe are supported by a Scientific Advisory Committee of distinguished health experts: Prof Stephen Boyden AM, Prof Emeritus Chris Burrell AO, Prof Colin Butler, Prof Peter Doherty AC, Prof Michael Kidd AM, Prof David de Kretser AC, Prof Stephen Leeder AO, Prof Ian Lowe AO, Prof Robyn McDermott, Prof Lidia Morawska, Prof Peter Newman AO, Prof Emeritus Sir Gustav Nossal AC, Prof Hugh Possingham, Prof Lawrie Powell AC, Prof Fiona Stanley AC, Dr Rosemary Stanton OAM, Dr Norman Swan ENDS



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