Canberrans are breathing easier this summer but are we prepared for another season of choking bushfire smoke?

A photograph of two black swans swimming on Lake Burley Griffin in Canberra, Australia, with bushfire smoke shrouding the scene.
27 December 2020

A year on from Canberra recording the world's worst air pollution for several days in a row, the ACT's Health Minister says the city is better placed to deal with a bushfire smoke disaster, but admits "we haven't significantly improved".

Canberra was kept indoors by 35 days of hazardous air quality last summer, and its systems struggled to cope.

There were 166 'smoke-related' presentations to the emergency department, babies took their first breath in smoky delivery rooms and researchers concluded 31 people in the ACT likely died from the effects of bushfire smoke.

Alarmed by the public health crisis, the ACT Government agreed to develop a smoke and air quality strategy before this bushfire season — but that plan was made in a world without COVID-19.

If last year's disasters were to repeat themselves this summer, Canberra would have little recourse but to endure it again.

Read the full article on the ABC News website, featuring Dr Arnagretta Hunter