Sydney was once again blanketed by thick smoke on Friday as the air quality level dropped below notoriously polluted cities including Jakarta, Guangzhou and Hanoi.
As Sydney rose to a worrying eighth worse in the city pollution rankings, sat just behind Mumbai, the NSW Environment, Energy and Science revealed the state was now subject to unprecedented levels of pollution thanks to the relentless drought and damaging bushfires that have decimated over a million hectares of bushland over the past two weeks.
“The impacts of the ongoing drought and recent bushfires have led to some of the highest levels of air pollutants recorded in NSW since air quality monitoring began during the millennium drought,” a department spokesperson told Yahoo News Australia.
“Smoke from the current bushfire emergency is having widespread impacts across northern NSW, the North Coast, Northern Tablelands and into the Hunter and Sydney regions.”
The smoke around Sydney, the Illawarra and north coast is going to hang around for a bit longer. It's likely to settle across much of the coast tonight before a change moves through overnight and tomorrow morning. The smoke is however likely to return over the weekend. #nswrfs pic.twitter.com/RvbyM50UqW— NSW RFS (@NSWRFS) November 21, 2019
A spokesperson told the Sydney Morning Herald they are “the highest [levels] ever recorded in NSW.”
The smoke pollution is particularly worrying as recordings measure smoke particles that can be absorbed into the human blood stream.
NSW air quality indexes on Friday morning deemed Sydney's northwest and southwest regions "hazardous" for air pollution. Sydney's east was deemed between "very poor" and "hazardous" quality.
The Lower and Upper Hunter regions were also enduring hazardous air quality.
Smoke haze at my local train station in the upper north shore, Sydney.— Kira (@kijah_) November 21, 2019
Media reports indicate there are still 59 fires burning (in NSW), 29 of which are not contained. pic.twitter.com/hkpEk7bitE
Once again dozens of Sydney residents took to social media to share images of Sydney Harbour and other notable landscapes appearing almost unrecognisable thanks to thick smoke.
Jockey Andrew Adkins rode in Sydney’s west on Thursday and described the conditions as “terrible”.
"I'm asthmatic so it affects me a bit more than a normal person but it (smoke) was pretty savage," Adkins said.
"You could taste it."
NSW Health reiterated to Sydneysiders to only go outside when necessary and warned people with existing lung conditions, such as asthma, may experience an exacerbation of their symptoms if exposed to the conditions.
The air quality has meant a series of meets have been cancelled.
The NSW Rural Fire Service said while some of the smoke in Sydney had started to clear thanks to southerly winds, residents can expect poor conditions for days to come.
Do you have a story tip? Email: email@example.com.