Air quality in Sydney takes a hit amid hazard reduction burning

Sydneysiders woke up to the smell of smoke on Saturday as air quality took a hit amid hazard reduction burning in parts of the state.

As Greater Sydney nears the end of its eighth week in lockdown – with exercise among the relatively small number of lawful reasons for leaving home – air quality was ranked as poor in some parts of Sydney.

Smoke-related particulate pollution – including those below 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in size, which can be absorbed into the bloodstream – was ranked as poor in some suburbs in Sydney’s east and north-west on Saturday, although the north-west had bounced back to fair shortly before 4pm.

Affected suburbs included Earlwood, Macquarie Park, Rozelle and North Parramatta.

Sensitive groups, including people with asthma, were advised to reduce outdoor activity if they developed symptoms such as coughing or shortness of breath.

The NSW Environment Protection Authority said the drop in air quality was “due to a series of planned hazard reduction burns in the Greater Sydney Metropolitan, Hunter Valley and Wingecarribee areas”.

In better news for south-west Sydney, which has been hit hard by COVID-19, air quality was unaffected.

Greater Sydney’s lockdown was extended on Thursday until the end of September, while a 9pm to 5am curfew will be introduced from Monday in the city’s 12 local government areas of concern.

Regional NSW will remain in lockdown until August 28.

The Local Government Areas (LGAs) of concern are: Bayside, Blacktown, Burwood, Campbelltown, Canterbury-Bankstown, Cumberland, Fairfield, Georges River, Liverpool, Parramatta, Strathfield, and the Penrith suburbs of Caddens, Claremont Meadows, Colyton, Erskine Park, Kemps Creek, Kingswood, Mount Vernon, North St Marys, Orchard Hills, Oxley Park, St Clair and St Marys.

Outdoor exercise has also been limited in those LGAs to one hour a day. Recreation was already banned in these LGAs under a previous tightening of the rules.

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