Air quality deterioration across the ACT from smoke

The ACT Health Directorate has upgraded health advice to the community due to the deterioration of air quality across Canberra from the heavy smoke.

The ACT Health Directorate has upgraded health advice to the community due to the deterioration of air quality across Canberra from the heavy smoke.

The smog, which is impacting the ACT from fires across the border, is extremely thick and expected to linger in the coming days. Conditions may also be intensified by the hot temperatures forecast. 

Health advice in the smoky conditions

During these periods of heavy smoke, all Canberrans are advised to avoid physical activity outside.

We also strongly advise people who are sensitive to smoke, especially those with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, to take extra care during these conditions.

This includes remaining indoors where possible, with windows and doors closed, and not using evaporative air conditioners which draw air into the house from outside. Anyone with a heart or lung condition should take their medication as prescribed by their doctor. People with asthma should follow their asthma action plan.

Anyone with concerns about their health should seek medical advice from their doctor. And anyone experiencing wheezing, chest tightness or difficulty breathing should seek urgent medical attention and in the event of a medical emergency call triple-zero (000).

People who are more vulnerable to smoke and air pollution include:

  • people with heart or lung conditions (including asthma)
  • children aged less than 14 years
  • pregnant women, and
  • people over 65 years of age.

Common symptoms people may experience with heavy smoke include:

  • Itchy or burning eyes,
  • Throat irritation,
  • Runny nose,
  • Shortness of breath and coughing.

People who are sensitive to smoke and air pollution can be more vulnerable to heat-related illness as well, so staying hydrated and cool is important.

People who are able to do so, are also encouraged to check on others who they think might need extra help, to see that they are okay.

Travelling safely over the holidays

With the bushfires currently burning in our surrounding region, it is important to heed the advice of our emergency services and to keep up-to-date on changing conditions. Stay informed via the ACT Emergency Services Agency website and download the NSW Fires Near Me app.

If travelling by car, be prepared. Make sure you take plenty of water in case of traffic delays or car breakdown. Also make sure you have your medications on hand and stored in a cool place.

Where can I find further information?

For further information on minimising the health impacts of outdoor smoke, refer to our factsheet.

For further tips on how to beat the heat see our summer safety page.

To monitor the levels of smoke in the air (PM2.5), see our Health advice for smoky air page.

At this time, the smoky air conditions are expected to continue to impact the ACT while bushfires are burning across the border, with dense smoke impacting a large area of our region. For further information on weather conditions, visit:

Page last updated on: 21 Jan 2020