On occasion Ruatorea experiences high levels of wind- blown natural dust from the Waiapu Riverbed.
These events don’t last long, the longest recorded was ten minutes, and little can be done to prevent the dust from becoming airborne.
The main effect is loss of visibility, and it’s a nuisance.
However, the dust can cause adverse health effects for vulnerable individuals, for example our pakeke (elders) or those who suffer from respiratory conditions.
The most common symptoms include Irritation to the eyes, ear, nose, throat and upper airways that can cause coughing, sneezing, hay fever or an asthma attack.
To reduce these health impacts for our Ruatorea community Council asked Hauora Tairāwhiti for advice.
Medical Officer of Health Dr Anura Jayasinghe says Ruatorea residents can take the following precautions to minimise potential health risks.
Try and find somewhere indoors to shelter if you are caught up in a wind-blown dust event in Ruatorea.
Avoid outdoor activity during one but if you can’t, wear a mask.
If you think the dust has come inside, health advice is to vacuum regularly.
While it is impossible to prevent these naturally occurring dust events, limiting exposure to the airborne dust will reduce any symptoms or health-related issues.
If you do experience symptoms like eye irritation, sneezing, coughing following dust exposure please don’t be concerned.
However, if symptoms persist following exposure, contact Healthline any time for general health advice on 0800 611 116, or call your GP.