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Air quality warning issued as smoke blankets Victoria

3AW Afternoons

A poor air quality warning has been issued for the Central, North East and Gippsland regions of Victoria, as smoke from bushfires in the state’s east travels to other parts of the state.

The EPA rates the air quality in Melbourne, Geelong, and the Latrobe Valley as ‘very poor’ and in Brighton it is ‘hazardous’.

Further east, closer towards the fire affected areas, the air quality is rated ‘hazardous’ in Traralgon, Bairnsdale, Omeo and Wangaratta.

Image: EPA AirWatch

Victoria’s Chief Environmental Scientist from the EPA, Dr Andrea Hinwood, urged people to take the warning seriously.

“We’re blanketed in Melbourne and surrounds,” she told 3AW’s Darren James.

“Given that the levels are heading up to the very poor levels this means that anyone who is sensitive to the effects of air pollution should reduce their exposure at this point, and really everyone else should be shutting doors, windows, keeping that smoke out of your home, putting your air conditioner on to recirculate, because we think this is going to continue overnight.

“Keep out of it if you can, if you can’t, be in it for as short a period as possible.”

Dr Hinwood said masks have limited effectiveness.

Even P2 masks which do filter particles are often fitted incorrectly, and there is currently a shortage of suitable masks available in the country.

“In some ways it might give you a false sense of security,” Dr Hinwood said.

“Your best measure is to reduce your exposure. Stay inside.

“If you were planning on going out maybe don’t do that today.

“Even healthy people can be affected by smoke.”

There are concerns the poor air quality could trigger asthma, even in people who don’t usually suffer symptoms.

“We’re really concerned for people with asthma and other respiratory conditions,” Nigel Cooper from Asthma Australia said.

You can monitor the air quality through the EPA’s AirWatch website.

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