Public Health England advice regarding the ongoing Saddleworth moorlands fire

Residents in areas affected by smoke should stay indoors, keep their doors and windows closed, and tune in to the local radio station for advice and information. Motorists who have to travel through the smoke should keep windows closed, turn off air conditioning and keep their air vents closed.  If people need to be outdoors, they are advised to avoid areas affected by any smoke or ash, or to limit the time that they spend in them.

Smoke can irritate air passages, the skin and the eyes leading to coughing and wheezing, breathlessness and chest pain. It can also worsen existing problems such as asthma and people with asthma should carry their inhaler with them at all times. Anyone concerned about their symptoms should contact their GP or NHS Direct.

Smoke is an irritant and can make eyes and throats sore – wash your face with soap and water and keep hydrated by drinking water. If you have any health concerns contact the NHS 111 service.

Key advice is:

  • Avoid smoky areas
  • If there is visible smoke stay indoors and keep your doors and windows closed.
  • Limit the time you spend outdoors.
  • If driving in smoky areas, keep your windows wound up and switch air conditioning systems to recycle or recirculate to prevent drawing in outside air.
  • Individuals with heart or lung diseases such as asthma should ensure they have access to their medication and seek medical advice if their symptoms worsen.

Concerns about odour (smell)

The human nose is very sensitive to odours, and many substances that are perceived as odorous are usually present at levels below which there is a direct toxicological effect.

Odours can cause nuisance amongst the population possibly leading to stress and anxiety. Some people may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches or dizziness, as a reaction to odours even when the substances that cause those smells are themselves not harmful to health. It cannot be excluded that some symptoms presented may be subjective i.e. as a result of an individual’s reaction to particular odours.

Advice on clean-up and recovery

PHE would not expect there to be a significant risk from short-term contact with ash and soot. Because of its size it is unlikely that it could be inhaled if disturbed and so would be unlikely to cause any respiratory symptoms. It can safely be washed off cars and outdoor furniture.