Sydney’s air quality dives for second time in a week as fog blankets city

© Provided by The Guardian
A number of Sydney ferries were forced to stop service due to the fog on Monday morning. Photograph: Mick Tsikas/AAP

Sydney has been blanketed in thick fog and smoke from hazard reduction burns, resulting in poor air quality for the second time in a week.


Load Error

The New South Wales Rural Fire Service issued a smoke advisory for greater Sydney, the Blue Mountains, Central Coast, Snowy Valleys, southern highlands and Illawarra/Shoalhaven on Monday morning.

In a statement, the RFS said light wind overnight had dragged the smoke over the city.

“Light winds and an overnight inversion has resulted in smoke settling in low-lying residential areas.

“Smoke is forecast to then begin to lift and clear across the morning as the day begins to warm up.”

Early in the day, the Bureau of Meteorology issued a road weather warning for the fog, saying there were dangerous conditions on the roads, and advised motorists to take extreme care.

“Reduced visibility in fog this morning will make road conditions dangerous,” it stated. “Motorists are advised to take extreme care.”

The F3 Parramatta River, F4 Pyrmont Bay and F8 Cockatoo Island ferry services were forced to stop services due to the fog, before resuming services mid-morning.

As the fog cleared, smoke from the hazard reduction burns settled across the city, reducing air quality in Sydney’s east and south west.

Alerts were issued for “poor” or “very poor” air quality at Chullora, Randwick, Earlwood and Lidcombe.

People in those areas were advised to avoid outdoor exercise, and those sensitive to smoke were told to stay indoors with the windows and doors closed.

NSW RFS inspector Ben Shepherd said although the fog was expected, they were a little taken aback by just how intense it was.

“What we saw was that as the fog moved across the Sydney area, it did carry with it some of the smoke, especially from burns carried out in the Campbelltown area,” Shepherd said.

“We understand that has an impact on people, and we try and offer as much information to people as possible.

“This is important work, and for everyone who says they don’t like to see this at this time of year, we equally see people who say we need to do more to better protect communities ahead of the fire season.”

© Provided by The Guardian
Heavy smoke haze and fog blankets Maroubra beach on Monday morning. Photograph: Brook Mitchell/Getty Images

Shepherd said it was ideal weather for hazard reduction burning, and it was imperative the RFS work towards protecting communities, especially those unaffected by the 2019-20 bushfire season.

“This is important work that we’ve been needing to do, and it’s some of the best burning weather we’ve had in 12 months. It’s important that we get these areas hazard reduced, to reduce the risk to homes in these areas.

“What makes it more favourable during this time of year is reduced temperatures and low wind speed. We also tend to get cooler overnight weather, which helps reduce the fires moving over that time.”

He said autumn was traditionally when the RFS would get through 60% of their hazard reduction work, due to the weather.

A temperature inversion traps some of the smoke at low levels.

“We’ve been doing what we can to reduce that impact over the last few weeks. Over the last few weeks, we’ve moved burns and rescheduled them, it is about striking a balance.”

The RFS was planning to carry out hazard reduction burns in areas around Sutherland, Campbelltown, the northern beaches and the Blue Mountains, but said they would suspend some burning to reduce the impact of smoke on communities.

“Hazard reduction burning is strategically planned to minimise the potential impact of smoke on public health, however some members of the community may need to take action to mitigate the risks of smoke from hazard reduction burning by planning ahead.”

NSW Health’s executive director of health protection, Dr Richard Broome, last week warned smoke was a serious issue for people with existing heart and lung conditions.

“Smoke particles irritate the eyes and airways. For most people, this causes temporary symptoms like cough and sore throat.

“However, smoke particles can worsen heart and lung conditions like angina, asthma and emphysema, potentially causing serious illness.”

Source: Thanks