Regular dust storms in Parkes prompt warning from NSW Health

Dust storms in Parkes are almost becoming a weekly occurrence of late, as the state continues to battle through one of the worst droughts on record.

An orange blanket of dust covered the shire on the Sunday (October 6) of the October long weekend as a severe dust storm emerged late afternoon and in 36 degree heat.

A second dust storm began to form the next day but was no where near as severe.

Just two weeks earlier, a very similar dust storm interrupted the AirVenture Australia airshow and expo that was being held for the first time in Parkes at the airport, halting the majority of activities on the Saturday (September 21) of the three-day event.

The regularity of the dust storms has prompted a warning from NSW Health, who is urging people to be aware of the health risks of dust storms.

The latest warning came when the large long weekend dust storm carried high levels of dust from western NSW across the state.

At the time, the air quality in the Western NSW Local Health District (WNSWLHD), of which Parkes falls into, was expected to be poor.

"It's especially important for children, older persons, and people with chronic respiratory and cardiovascular conditions such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, emphysema and heart disease to limit their time outside and not engage in vigorous exercise during a dust storm," WNSWLHD Public Health Manager, Priscilla Stanley said.

"If possible, stay in air-conditioned premises where filtration systems can help to reduce dust particles in the air.

"Dust may aggravate existing heart and lung conditions, and cause symptoms like eye irritation and coughing.

"Symptoms can occur for several days after dust is inhaled, so people with the chronic conditions need to be vigilant with their treatment programs."

Ms Stanley said people with asthma or a lung condition who develop symptoms such as shortness of breath, coughing or wheezing, should follow their Asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) Action Plan.

"If symptoms do not settle, seek medical advice," she said.

"Healthy adults may also feel the effects of fine particles that can irritate the lungs, so it's wise to reschedule or cut back on prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when dust levels are high."

In case of an emergency, always remember to dial triple zero.

For more information, visit the NSW Health air quality web page at: https://www.health.nsw.gov.au/environment/factsheets/Pages/dust-storms.aspx

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