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Tamahere Public Health Messages Repeated

Media Release

Date: April 9, 2008

Tamahere Public Health Messages Repeated

Residents who live near Tamahere's Icepack Coolstore have received a letter reiterating initial health messages about smoke lingering from the weekend blaze.

In the letter, the message to residents is to avoid smoke inhalation by shutting windows and staying indoors.

"While the smoke is more an irritant than a health hazard, people with existing respiratory conditions may find they have been affected and anyone with breathing difficulties should contact their GP or medical centre," says Waikato District Health Board medical officer of health Anita Bell.

Hundreds of tonnes of cheese within the cool store burnt in the weekend's blaze - the result a massive fat fire.

"This produced a black, sooty, greasy residue which is a nuisance, but not toxic," said Dr Bell.

"Smoke from burning biomass (whether it be wood or cheese) is made up of combusted and partially combusted organic material.

"This includes particulates, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, as well as carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide and small amounts of nitrogen oxides.

"Any health risks relate to long-term exposure over months and years - rather than short-term exposure of days and weeks, as is the case with the Tamahere fire."

Dr Bell said any effect on water supplies was unlikely, however households using roof water should disconnect the intake until the first rainfalls and washes soot from the roof.

The recommendation is to wash garden vegetables before eating.

Anyone with further concerns or queries can contact the Hamilton City Council environmental helpline on (07) 838 6699.

ENDS

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