Large dust storm sweeps through Australia, serious health hazard in Sydney

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A low pressure system affecting southeastern Australia since November 21, 2018, brought damaging winds, high seas, dangerous dust storms and elevated fire danger for eastern New South Wales. 

Ambulances in NSW have responded to almost 100 calls across Sydney as a wall or red dust swamped the city. The worst affected area in the city was Parramatta North, where air pollution reached ‘hazardous’ levels.

The dust storm responsible is 1 400 km (870 miles) long and 200 km (124 miles) wide.

“So far today we have responded to around 90 cases of asthma or breathing difficulties right across Sydney which is a significant peak,” NSW Ambulance Control Centre director and Assistant Commissioner Tony Gately said.

“People need to stay inside where possible, drink plenty of fluids, and avoid exercise. Anyone prone to respiratory distress needs to be absolutely vigilant.”

He said the service was taking about eight calls an hour for breathing difficulty and related issues.

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“This is the typical time of year for dust storms through inland Australia, but it is quite rare for dust to reach the east coast,” BOM’s Adam Morgan said. “In recent times, the dust storm most people along the east coast would remember is the “Red Dawn” dust storm in September 2009.

Featured image credit: 9News

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