A Smoke Refuge Plan for the ACT
On the evening of January 1, 2020, the Monash Air Quality Station's index rating peaked at 5185. Anything above 200 is considered hazardous. Due to dense smoke haze from fires burning on the South Coast, the air quality in Tuggeranong was more than 25 times above hazardous. The recorded index rating was higher than the world's most polluted cities.
This was the nadir of the hazardous smoke pollution in Canberra that started in November 2019 and did not end until early February 2020. ACT Health recommended that residents keep all windows and doors closed and seal any gaps where smoke might enter. It also advised residents only to use an evaporative cooler if the system were filtered and to switch other air-conditioners to ‘recycle’ or ‘recirculate’ to reduce the amount of smoke entering premises.
Even with this advice many residents were unable to mitigate the smoke pollution in their own homes. Even fewer had an effective evaporative cooler or air-conditioner. Air purifiers had sold out. Through some of the hottest days of summer residents were trapped inside their homes by smoke pollution with no safe way of keeping cool.
An ACT Hazardous Smoke Refuge Plan should demonstrate what residents need to do in their homes to reduce the smoke and indicate which adequately protected and ventilated public facilities they could access - such as public libraries, community or school halls. Last summer this information was not easily available for many Tuggeranong residents.
The following residents of the ACT draw to the attention of the Assembly the hazardous smoke pollution that covered Canberra from November 2019 to February 2020 with the result that many residents were unable to mitigate the smoke pollution in their own homes. There are possible ongoing health effects because of this prolonged exposure.
Your petitioners, therefore, request the Assembly to prepare and share a Hazardous Smoke Refuge Plan so Territory citizens can find shelter in protected and properly ventilated public locations (such as libraries, suburban halls and education facilities) during the likely next hazardous smoke emergency.
The A Smoke Refuge Plan for the ACT petition to ACT Government was written by Taimus Werner-Gibbings and is in the category Health at GoPetition.