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Environment, Medical Health Aged Care

TALENT ALERT | Climate pollution threatens homes and lives in southern states

Climate Media Centre 3 mins read

Extreme heat and dangerous bushfire conditions continue to threaten lives and homes across southern Australia this week.

As bushfires intensify in regional Victoria, air heavy with smoke and particulates is spreading across metropolitan Melbourne and people across South Australia, New South Wales and Victoria swelter through another heatwave.

According to research commissioned by the Human Health and Social Impacts Research Node, “bushfire smoke is a major ongoing environmental hazard in Australia”.

The study found that short-term exposure to bushfire particulate pollution was associated with increased risk of all-cause mortality in those over 65 years old.


To arrange interviews, please contact:

Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or dylan.quinnell@climatemediacentre.org.au

OR

Emily Watkins on 0420 622 408 or emily.watkins@climatemediacentre.org.au.

 

DISASTER RESILIENCE AND EMERGENCY MANAGEMENT 

Amanda Lamont, co-founder of Australasian Women in Emergencies Network and volunteer firefighter, has an established career in disaster resilience and emergency management. Last week, Amanda was firefighting in Raglan, Victoria. Amanda was also firefighting in Queensland in November and back again in January with the Australian Red Cross to support communities in storm recovery. Amanda can talk about how the continuous disaster landscape is impacting emergency services and communities. 

Location: Naarm, Melbourne, Victoria 

HEALTH EFFECTS OF CLIMATE POLLUTION, INCLUDING BUSHFIRE SMOKE 

 

Kate Wylie, chair of Doctors for the Environment Australia said: “Australians have always been familiar with bushfires. But now, because of climate change, fires are fiercer, more frequent and more destructive with greater loss of life.

 

“It’s not only local communities that are affected by fires. Bushfire smoke can affect air quality many thousands of kilometres away, cover a large area, and be long-lasting. Anyone may be affected by smoke pollution, however children, those who are pregnant, the elderly, and asthmatics are especially vulnerable.

 

“As well as fine particles, there are many other toxic and cancer-causing chemicals in bushfire smoke. The catastrophic 2019-2020 bushfires in eastern Australia show how unhealthy poor air quality can be. 

 

“Bushfire smoke caused:

  • 417 extra deaths

  • 3151 hospitalisations for heart and lung problems

  • 1305 presentations to emergency for asthma

 

“People are at increased risk of asthma and other breathing difficulties, while people who are badly affected by smoke pollution may suffer major illnesses such as significant asthma or heart attacks and cardiac arrests.

 

“Reducing the burning of coal and gas would reduce the health risks from climate change which is fuelling extreme weather, improving our health and the health of the planet.”

Location: Kaurna country, Adelaide, SA

EXTREME HEAT IN URBAN AREAS

Emma Bacon, executive director Sweltering Cities, said:Communities across NSW, Victoria and South Australia are about to face deadly heat this week, the last official week of summer. Beyond what's reported in the news, we know that it means people in the community are suffering, and that people will more than likely die due to the effects of the heat. The people who are most at risk will include older people, people with disability, young babies and people who live in hot homes or work outside.

“The people who live in the hot suburbs of Adelaide, Sydney and Melbourne may be feeling temperatures that are five or 10 degrees hotter than the official temperature measurements. That’s because the way we’ve built our cities has created urban heat islands where treeless streets, large expanses of concrete and dark surfaces heat up the area. For people living in hot homes, we know that far too many are worrying whether they can afford to keep cool or if a big electricity bill will mean they’re forced to cut back on other essentials.”

Location: Eora Nation, Sydney NSW

 

ENDS


Contact details:

Dylan Quinnell on 0450 668 350 or dylan.quinnell@climatemediacentre.org.au

OR

Emily Watkins on 0420 622 408 or emily.watkins@climatemediacentre.org.au.

 

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