Melbourne residents will have to wait another day until they can breathe easy again with air quality at hazardous levels for the second day running.
At 9am this morning, the air quality index in Melbourne was clocking in at 347, more than six times worse than the minimum healthy level. A “good” air quality index is under 50.
Forecasting predicts air quality will improve tomorrow, with air pollution levels expected to drop by mid-Thursday morning.
Melbourne is the third major Australian city to be choked by impacted air quality due to smoke from bushfires, with both Sydney and Canberra suffering through some of the worst air pollution in the world.
The Federal Government has since announced it will spend $ 5 million researching the health impact of bushfires as Australia faces an unprecedented fire season.
Two million will go towards the impact of bushfires on mental health, while the remainder will be spent on the physical impact of long-term smoke exposure.
‘REALLY SCARED THAT I WOULD COLLAPSE’
Today’s warning comes as Melbourne residents suffered through some of the worst air quality in the world yesterday as smoke from fires in East Gippsland blanketed many of the city’s suburbs.
The hazardous air quality levels have forced many residents to don protective face masks and avoid working outdoors, with horse races cancelled and beaches closed.
Local residents have taken to Twitter to share terrifying before and after shots that illustrate the full threat of the air quality.
Ambulance Victoria have reported an increase in people phoning triple-0 with breathing problems, with those with existing health conditions such as asthma and emphysema at most risk.
The dangerous air quality also impacted the Australian Open, with Slovenian tennis player Dalila Jakupovic abandoning her match after falling to her knees in a coughing fit.
Jakupovic told reporters afterwards she had never suffered from breathing problems and it was “not fair” that players were expected to play in poor air quality.
“I was really scared that I would collapse. That’s why I went onto the floor because I couldn’t walk anymore,” she said.
“I don’t have asthma and never had breathing problems. I actually like heat. The physio came again and I thought it would be better. But the points were a bit longer and I just couldn’t breathe anymore and I just fell on the floor.”
TEEN GIRL DIES AFTER SEVERE ASTHMA ATTACK
Over the weekend the first death believed to have been caused by poor air quality due to bushfire smoke emerged, with fears the number will rise in coming weeks.
Courtney Partridge-McLennan, from Glen Innes in northern NSW, died from a fatal asthma attack on the night of November 28.
Tragically, the 19-year-old’s body was discovered the next morning in a granny flat at the back of her parents’ property.
Smoke from nearby bushfires that had been raging since September is thought to have triggered the teen’s attack.
Authorities believe the deadly attack was swift despite Courtney not being a severe asthmatic. her sister Cherylleigh told The Sunday Telegraph.
“Police said it must have been quick because she had her phone torch on and her ventolin on the bed. It must have been so quick because she would have gone to mum and dad,” Cherylleigh said.
Asthma Australia said they “don’t know how many other lives have been lost to the bushfire smoke” but called on those in need to seek help.
“We appeal for all families who have suffered a loss from the bushfire smoke to be acknowledged as soon as possible and gain access to support like all families who have tragically lost loved ones to these fires,” a statement posted on Facebook read.