Innocent detail in pictures of Aussie suburb reveals 'silent killer'

A basic experiment has highlighted how trees can be the 'difference between life and death'.

Pictures of two neighbouring streets in a Western Sydney suburb have highlighted a "silent killer" threatening the safety of residents.

Doctors for the Environment Australia issued a grim warning this week after stark temperature differences were recorded on two roads in Toongabbie on a sweltering summer day late last month.

Despite sitting parallel to each other, one street features significant tree coverage, while the other has barely any — leading to a whopping 20-degree temperature increase.

Bulli Road with trees and Favell Road with very few trees in the Sydney suburb.
Bulli Road (right) in the suburb of Toongabbie recorded 29.3 degrees in comparison to Favell Road (left) at 50.1 degrees. Source: 9News

With shade provided by the overhead tree canopy, Bulli Road recorded 29.3 degrees in comparison to Favell Road at 50.1 degrees.

The "one point collection" is a snapshot of the well-known issues heat exposure has on health, with these impacts being "very apparent" to the medical community, according to the organisation's chairperson Dr Kate Wylie.

“We live in a world where we’re not paying enough attention to heat on human health,” she told Yahoo News Australia. "People are more likely to have heart attacks, kidney failure and strokes when exposed."

The tree coverage counted for a difference in 20-degree temperature recording.
The tree coverage accounted for the stark difference in temperature recorded on the parallel streets. Source: Doctors for the Environment Australia

'Upsetting' health effects are overlooked

Dr Wylie said that while awareness of the detrimental effects heat has on the body is not new, she believes simple action could go a long way in protecting the health of Aussies.

"Ways we can really do that is by providing shade cover, like planting more trees and not removing ones that are already there," she said.

This sentiment was echoed by her colleague Dr Cybele Dey, who shared that tree coverage can be hugely beneficial.

"People are dying from heart attacks and heat exhaustion and from complications of medications at high temperatures is happening a bigger scale than people realise. It's a silent killer," she told 9 News.

"Trees can be the difference between life and death."

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