The Menzies Institute for Medical Research told the Royal Commission into National Natural Disaster Arrangements on 25 May that 3,340 people were admitted to hospital for cardiac and respiratory problems and 1,373 attended emergency departments for asthma complications.
An estimated 445 people died from the bushfire smoke. This premature loss of life and increased hospital admissions generated an estimated $2 billion in associated health costs. 80% of the population was affected.
As pollution travels, it picks up other [matter]… So it might have been relatively “clean” bushfire carbon particles at the site of the bushfires, but by the time it got to Melbourne or other cities, it also picked up some diesel pollution, some industrial pollution, [and] some pollens.Associate Professor Louis Irving, Director of Respiratory and Sleep Medicine at the Royal Melbourne Hospital
So the pollution isn’t necessarily just wood-fire smoke anymore, it’s a mixture of pollution.
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Government responses to Covid-19 have been largely guided by medical specialists and available evidence. That’s why we have been successful in keeping the death toll to just over 100. It’s also why the vast majority of Australians have trusted governments to spend vast amounts of money and wreak havoc on the economy. Saving lives matters.
It hardly needs saying, but had Governments around the world responded in the same way to the evidence on global warming three decades ago, it’s safe to assume that fewer lives would be lost to bushfires along with countless animals and vast areas of bush.