Clean air is essential for healthy lungs and outdoor air pollution can cause health impacts. Common sources of outdoor air pollution include bushfires, motor vehicles and industries, all of which emit harmful particles into the environment. For more information visit our resource below.
Understanding air pollution and your lung health
People living with a lung condition are more vulnerable to the effects of air pollution. Exposure to air pollution can cause inflammation and worsening of symptoms. For more information on how to manage your lung condition during extreme air pollution events visit our resource below.
We tend to spend a lot of time in our homes. A healthy indoor environment may help reduce exposure to allergens and irritants and potentially reduce the risk of irritating sensitive airways. Download our fact sheet to understand more about how you can better control your indoor air quality.
Across Australia residents are breathing polluted air resulting in significant negative health outcomes. In 2023 Lung Foundation Australia carried out a survey to explore the impact of climate change and air pollution on those living with a lung disease. Download our report to see what we found.
Wood fire smoke
Bush fires remain a threat in Australia, occurring all year round. It is important people remain aware and vigilant of the risks to their lung health, and what they can do to protect themselves. People who have poor lung health should try to minimize their exposure to wood fire smoke and pollutants. Smoke and pollutants in the air can penetrate deeply into the lungs and irritate the airways causing symptoms in people with existing problems such as Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) and asthma to worsen, including wheezing, chest tightness and difficulty breathing. Children, the elderly, those who smoke and people with pre-existing illnesses such as heart or lung conditions are more sensitive to breathing in fine particles from smoke.
Smoke from woodheaters can be a major source of air pollution in many parts of Australia and is a real and significant health hazard.
Where possible, people with poor lung health in areas affected by wood fire smoke should:
- Avoid physical activity outdoors while smoke is in the area
- Rest more frequently and keep away from the smoke where possible
- Follow their action plans and treatment advised by their doctor and keep their medicines close to hand
- Close windows and doors to minimise smoke in their home
- Switch their air conditioner (if they have one) to recycle or recirculate
- Have their emergency plan ready in the event of an evacuation or the loss of essential services (such as power loss) during bush fires