A preliminary public health risk assessment has identified the potential for increased levels of toxic chemicals (dioxins) in the Pukemiro/Glen Afton area due to fire/ fumes from the Puke Coal site. The health risks are specific to pregnant and breastfeeding women and not other residents. Waikato DHB advise as follows.
The levels of dioxins observed in the similar overseas event present a potential risk for unborn and breastfeeding babies. Although the levels have not yet been confirmed, as a precautionary measure we are advising pregnant and breastfeeding women to seek accommodation outside of the affected area, at least 3 kilometres from the site. This is recommended until environmental testing shows whether dioxin levels are elevated, or until the fire is extinguished.
We’re asking you to seek accommodation with family or friends. Think about what to take with you. If you are unable to find alternative accommodation with friends or family outside of the area you should contact 0800 492 452.
Those who are temporarily relocated will be kept informed regularly as we work
through this. There is no current recommended examination or medical test necessary, or that will provide useful information at this time.
For all other residents, the advice remains the same - if the smoke is thick or if you are affected by the smoke or odour, close windows, doors, and shut off ventilation systems in your house and avoid going outside. The potential risk outlined above specifically relates to pregnant and breastfeeding women only. Smoke may irritate eyes, nose, throat and airways.
Symptoms can include runny or sore eyes, dry or sore throat, sore nose, cough, tightness of the chest or difficulty breathing. In healthy people, most symptoms disappear soon after exposure to smoke ends and do not cause longterm health problems. However, if your symptoms persist, phone Healthline on 0800 611 116 for free 24-hour health advice or see your doctor.
If you have asthma, lung or heart disease, seek medical help if your symptoms worsen and do not respond to your usual measures or if you experience
breathlessness or chest pain.
For more information view the Waikato DHB health notice (PDF).