AS a dust storm moves across western NSW, infants, the elderly and those with respiratory issues have been urged to take precautions.
Large areas near Broken Hill, White Cliffs and Menindee were swallowed up by the huge dust cloud on Wednesday afternoon.
Bureau of Meteorology predictions show the dust will continue to move in an easterly directly on Thursday.
“Dust storms may reach as far as the coast on Thursday, including Sydney and Canberra, and strong winds will also lead to elevated fire dangers for eastern New South Wales,” meteorologist Jonathan How said.
Meanwhile, NSW Health has issued a warning to those with a respiratory or cardiovascular condition to limit the amount of time spent outdoors and avoid vigorous exercise.
The warning also stated that dust particles vary in size from coarse (non-inhalable), to fine (inhalable), to very fine (respirable).
“Coarse dust particles generally only reach as far as the inside of the nose, mouth or throat,” the warning stated.
“Smaller or fine particles, however, can get much deeper into the sensitive regions of the respiratory tract and lungs.
“These smaller dust particles have a greater potential to cause serious harm to your health.”
The NSW Health statement said commonly, particles in dust storms tend to be coarse or non-respirable and do not pose a serious health threat to the general public.
“However, some people with pre-existing breathing-related problems, such as asthma and emphysema, may experience difficulties,” it said.
The following precautions can help you protect yourself and minimise the adverse effects of a dust storm:
- Avoid outdoor activity. If you must go outside, spend as little time outside as possible
- Cover your nose and mouth with a mask or damp cloth to reduce exposure to dust particles. A P2 or P3 mask, available from hardware stores, should block even the finest particles if fitted correctly over the nose and mouth
- Avoid vigorous exercise, especially if you have asthma, diabetes or a breathing-related condition
- Stay indoors, with windows and doors closed
- Stay in air-conditioned premises, if possible.
NSW Health states that if you are an asthmatic or have a respiratory condition and you develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, or chest pain, follow your prescribed treatment plan.
If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice.
Heads up! A large dust storm is forecast to move across parts of NSW tomorrow. If you have a respiratory or cardiovascular condition, limit your time spent outdoors and avoid vigorous exercise. Read more about dust storms here: https://t.co/RewkzVYXUY#NSWDustStorm@BOM_NSWpic.twitter.com/FBEC4srq99— NSW Health (@NSWHealth) November 21, 2018