The hazardous bushfire smoke has returned to Ballarat on Monday with a northerly blowing in bushfire smoke from the border and north-east fires.
While the air quality monitor at Melton (the nearest station) was measured at 21 parts per million or good quality, a significant haze could be seen and smelt at Ballarat.
The Environmental Protection Agency forecasts the air quality in Ballarat will be rated as "very poor" by the end of the day.
The haze is likely to prove troublesome to those suffering with coughs and other respiratory illnesses and the Chief Health Officer recommends avoiding strenuous exercise and to remain indoors if people experience difficulties.
Last week smoke reached hazardous levels from 5pm to 8pm on Monday. At hazardous levels everyone can experience symptoms like coughing or shortness of breath, and people with respiratory illnesses are at much greater risk of a deterioration in their health.
Paramedics also urged people to take care in bushfire smoke after receiving a big increase in 000 calls last week for people with breathing problems as thick smoke blanketed Melbourne, Geelong, Ballarat and other areas in addition to the fire zones.
"(Monday) we saw a 51 per cent increase in the number of people reporting breathing problems, and we think that's largely due to smoke," said Ambulance Victoria acting director of emergency management Justin Dunlop.
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"Breathing problems calls increased from an average of 187 per day to 282, with a spike in the evening."
Mr Dunlop said children and people with pre-existing health conditions were at greatest risk.
People should guard against exposure to smoke by taking some simple precautions:
- Stay inside your house if possible; close all windows and doors
- If you use an air conditioner switch it to "recycle" or "recirculate"
- Avoid exercise.
- Ordinary paper dust masks and handkerchiefs won't filter out fine particles from bushfire smoke - use a special P2 or N95 filer mask, which you can get at a hardware store. Be sure it fits properly and you don't have any medical issues that would prevent use.
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