Effect of Australian Bushfires 2019-2020 on The Air Quality of Australia

Impact on AQI

The Australian bushfires act as a source of dispersing the particulate matter (PM) that acts as a pollutant in the air. PM10 and PM 2.5 are chief pollutants and are known to be fatal (Vardoulakis et al. 2020). The New South Wales Department of planning, development and Environment (2020) has reported that the every day average of the Air Quality Index and records the data from 40+ stations that are spread across the state. Due to the bushfires in Australia, the amount of particulate matter in the region has almost doubled and an intensive increase was more commonly found in the month of November.

An increase in the PM2.5 levels in the other regions of Australia has been recorded due to bushfires. These regions recorded high PM2.5 levels due to their proximity with the fires impacting their air quality. These included places like Goulburn, Oakdale, Katoomba, Rozelle, and Albion Park.

The bushfires in the year 2020 have been also different in terms of the secondary pollutants that are released. Often secondary pollutants like ozone along with Co and NOx are often released during the bushfires (NSW department of planning, development and Environment 2020). The 2020 bushfires also reported increase in the release of ozone and CO in the air impacting the overall air quality of Australia.

Impact on the Health of Individuals

The pollutants that are generated by the bushfires result in the development of several respiratory and chronic heart conditions among the Australians. The pollution increase caused by the bushfires also affects the mortality rate by directing hampering the well being and the health of the residents in the regions where the air quality is severely compromised. The Government of Australia identifies that the bushfires can result in health problems like shortness of breath and cough (Vardoulakis et al. 2020). People with asthma, lung conditions like COPD, heart and cardiovascular problems, diabetes, and old age must be extremely alert and ensure precautions. The pregnant woman must also remain safe and away from the smoke (Government of Australia 2020). It can impact their health as well as that of the fetus. The pollutants in high concentration can act as irritants and trigger an immune response in the body that can cause inflammation and further worsen the health conditions of the patients of complex and chronic health conditions. For the elderly and pregnant women, these pollutants can be poisonous and severely impact the health of individuals (Yu et al. 2020).

Mitigation Strategies

The mitigation strategies associated with Bushfire include the enclosing of the insulation system in IP66 related enclosure. Advanced sensors are installed as alarming devices in cases of bushfires in Australia. The government identifies the bushfires in Australia as a common natural disaster. The government of Australia follows an array of mitigation strategies that include fire prevention and Arson. The AFAC (Australian Fire and Emergency council) works for the effective management of fire and regulates the loss in the areas affected (Government of Australia 2019). The government also launches the guidelines to ensure the safety of the health of people in the region and advises precautionary measures like staying indoors and use of face masks to prevent the damage due to pollutants in the air. The government also focusses on Arson that if, reduced through the application of various resources can help in the mitigation of bushfires in Australia (Jalaludin et al. 2020).

Future Mitigation

The primary need for the future is to develop preventive measures to limit the hazards that are caused by bushfires in Australia. The bushfires are a natural disaster in Australian ecology and preventive steps can help in limiting the health and environmental loss that is generated by them. A preventable measure includes improvement in the faulty power infrastructure, development of vigilance, development of community understanding, and improved methods for fire control (Government of Australia 2019). Fuel management to prevent exacerbation of fire is also essential and must be looked after by the state and the national government of Australia.

Effective coordination of various agencies can also be used to ensure the development of better mitigation strategies to minimize the loss and health hazards that are imposed by the bushfires. Passive approaches towards land management should also be considered to develop future mitigation strategies that can minimize the loss and air pollution due to the bushfires. The precautionary steps associated with the health and well being of the population must be promoted and encouraged (Borchers Arriagada, et al. 2020).

Conclusion on Effect of Australian Bushfires

This document has provided an analysis of the impact of pollutants that are released on the air during bushfires in Australia. The PM2.5 and PM10 have been identified as the chief pollutants and with ozone, NOx, and CO along with secondary pollutants that are often generated by the bushfires. These pollutants emerge in high concentrations during the bushfires and result in severe health problems in the natives. Government of Australia uses an array of mitigation strategies to minimize the losses and health hazards that are imposed by the bushfires. The fires are considered as a natural hazard in the Australian ecosystem and therefore require a participatory approach for mitigation of government, individual agencies, and the community. This document also highlights the importance of future mitigation strategies and the required development to minimize the environmental and health hazards that are caused by bushfires.

References for Effect of Australian Bushfires

Borchers Arriagada, N., Palmer, A.J., Bowman, D.M., Morgan, G.G., Jalaludin, B.B. and Johnston, F.H. 2020. Unprecedented smoke‐related health burden associated with the 2019–20 bushfires in eastern Australia. Medical Journal of Australia. vol.120, no.5, pp.435-436.

Government of Australia 2019. ‘Bushfire mitigation’ [online]. Available at: https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Former_Committees/agric/completed_inquiries/2008-10/bushfires/report/c03 [Accessed on: 15/06/2020]

Government of Australia 2020. ‘Bushfires and your health’ [online]. Available at: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/bushfires-and-your-health. [Accessed on: 15/06/2020]

Jalaludin, B., Johnston, F., Vardoulakis, S. and Morgan, G. 2020. ‘Reflections on the catastrophic 2019–2020 Australian bushfires’. The Innovation, vol.1, no.1, pp: 22.

NSW department of planning, development and Environment 2020.’Bushfire Recovery’. [online]. Available at: https://www.planning.nsw.gov.au/bushfirerecovery [Accessed on: 14/06/2020]

Vardoulakis, S., Marks, G. and Abramson, M.J. 2020. ‘Lessons learned from the Australian bushfires: climate change, air pollution, and public health’. JAMA Internal Medicine, vol.180, no.5, pp.635-636.

Yu, P., Xu, R., Abramson, M.J., Li, S. and Guo, Y. 2020. ‘Bushfires in Australia: a serious health emergency under climate change’. The Lancet Planetary Health.vol.26, no.22, pp: 442

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