Authorities in Australia say a massive fire at an open-pit coal mine could continue to burn for months. The fire has already burned for two weeks, enveloping the town of Morwell in the state of Victoria with thick, toxic smoke. Victoria’s chief health officer, Rosemary Lester, spoke Wednesday.
Dr. Rosemary Lester: “Our priority at the moment is to concentrate on the short-term health effects that we know that the smoke can cause. We know that the fine particles in the smoke can get down into the lungs, and that can cause short-term health effects like exacerbation of asthma, worsening of heart or other lung conditions. And we know that the people who are most vulnerable to these effects are people with pre-existing heart and lung conditions, children, the elderly, smokers and pregnant women.”