Wood smoke warning issued to asthmatics

Asthmatics are being encouraged to take care to avoid smoke from wood fires as the temperature drops and the fire usage increases.

Dr Dean Wright from Narromine Shire Family Health Centre said smoke aggravated known asthmatics and those with respiratory conditions. 

"Asthmatics should keep their emergency asthma plans up to date and be sure to have their medication in date and on them," Dr Wright said.

Wood heaters produce more pollution than either tobacco or motor vehicles during the winter months, according to the Asthma Foundation NSW.

Foundation CEO Michele Goldman said the average new wood heater in cold areas emitted as much pollution as 370 new diesel SUVs each travelling 20,000 km per year.

"The science is unequivocal. Wood smoke contains noxious gases, such as carbon monoxide and nitrogen dioxide, organic compounds and fine particles that go deep into the lungs and can cause heart, respiratory problems like asthma and cancer.

"In scientific testing wood smoke has been shown to be more hazardous than cigarette smoke," Ms Goldman said.

Asthma Foundation NSW are calling for the Federal Government to pass new legislation to remove existing heaters that do not meet a health-based standard, limit the emissions from new models and provide better education for those using wood burning stoves and assistance for people whose health has been impacted by wood smoke.

"The NSW Government has passed responsibility for this urgent and pressing health concern to ill-equipped local councils when it has a number of cost neutral options that could dramatically reduce winter pollution levels and drastically reduce the health bill," Ms Goldman said.

In regional centres such as Armidale, the NSW Environment Protection Authority (EPA) states wood heaters account for upwards of 80 per cent of pollution.

In Sydney, the NSW EPA calculates the estimated 83,000 wood heaters produce up to 73 per cent of the air pollution during winter, more than three times as much as motor vehicles.