The Tasmanian Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) has launched an early warning smoke detection system to be dlievered online.


In a partnership between Tasmania’s public health exports and the EPA, precautionary health advice will now be activated on a dedicated website when smoke levels reach elevated levels for over an hour.


The Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Chrissie Pickin, said the new notification system is specifically targeted at Tasmanians who are at greater risk of harm from wood smoke.


“Wood smoke can worsen the symptoms of lung conditions, such as asthma, chronic bronchitis and emphysema - even after only short exposures to smoky conditions.


“Through local research we are seeing increasing evidence of its effects on heart disease as well. Infants and people over the age of 65 are also at increased risk.


“The purpose of the new air quality notifications is to help particularly susceptible groups know when to take precautions and protect their health,” Dr Pickin said.


The Director of the EPA, Alex Schaap, said air quality is monitored at 21 locations around Tasmania, with real-time data published online through the Base Line Air Network of EPA Tasmania (BLANkET) system.


“Tasmania has some of the cleanest air in the world. Yet we can have significant air quality problems, especially with smoke from wildfires, planned burning and domestic wood heating during clear nights in the cooler months,” he said.


Precautionary advice will be triggered after one hour of elevated PM2.5 levels of 25 µg/m3 – a much shorter timeframe than national 24-hour air quality standards.