Wednesday January 25, 2017
Keep an eye out for asthma
The Wainuiomata River. PHOTO: Supplied
Residents urged to check if it’s safe to swim this summer By Emma McAuliffe
Locals are encouraged to keep an eye on their rivers when swimming this summer. The Greater Wellington Regional Council recommends people take care when heading to popular swimming spots this year and check whether it is safe to swim. During summer, Wellington’s regional, city and district councils monitor the quality of water at popular beaches and rivers each week. Toxic algae, which can be dangerous for dogs, is also monitored at river sites. Toxic algae, cyanobacteria, thrives in summer due to low rainfall and warm temperatures. It forms leathery looking mats on rocks in the riverbed, and ranges from black or brown to dark green in colour. Scientists also monitor levels of contaminants in the water, which could be washed off the land and into the river. Fresh water scientist at the regional council, Mark Heath, said so far this year
the monitored spot in Wainuiomata at Richard Prouse Park had come up clear in terms of toxic algae, however caution should still be taken. “We haven’t had any issues in the Wainuiomata River at Richard Prouse this year. The toxic algae levels have been well well below regular levels. The weather can help flush it away, so if it’s been raining that’s can help,” he said. Mark said the council would still recommend people not use the river until after 48 hours has passed since the last rain. “At rain fall [contaminants] can get to an elevated level because things can wash in off the land. Generally people don’t swim when rivers have high currents any way because of the depth and speed of the water flow,” he said. “What we do recommend is that people check our website and see if it is safe to swim before heading out into the water.”
Parents are encouraged to monitor their children’s health when they go back to school and keep an eye out for asthmatic symptoms. “Asthma attacks are particularly common for children when going back to school, especially following the long summer holiday,” Teresa Demetriou from the Asthma and Respiratory Foundation New Zealand said. She said studies had shown viral infections were likely to be the main cause in the spike of asthma hospitalisations. Other causes included less strict asthma management over the holidays, a change in environment with greater exposure to allergens, and a change in emotions such as stress and anxiety. She said she urged parents to take
preventative measures. “The best thing to do is be as prepared as possible,” Teresa said. “Asthma Action Plans need to be provided to schools along with updated emergency contact details. Children need to be taking their preventer medication as prescribed if they have one, and bring their reliever inhaler to school.” “Make sure your child knows what their triggers are so they can do their best to avoid them. It’s important to reduce exposure to germs, which includes washing hands with soap as needed. We also highly recommend all families with asthma to get their flu vaccination in March,” she said. For more information on Asthma in New Zealand head to www.asthma.org. nz/ or www.asthmafoundation.org.nz/.
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Wainuiomata News 25-01-17