Sydneysiders face another smoky day amid new health warnings
Sydney residents have woken to another day of thick smoke haze, with little hope for any end in sight.
Authorities are warning poor air quality conditions will continue throughout the day and into the weekend.
The air quality index is forecast as hazardous in many areas of Sydney and the surrounds today, with the NSW Environment Department's website crashing under the strain of people searching for information.
This morning, the smoke had dissipated a little over the city, however was quite thick over Sydney's eastern and southern suburbs, including Randwick, Camden and Wollongong. It settled over the CBD mid-morning.
The smoke is being blown from large fires to near Warragamba Dam and the Wollombi National Park, where large blazes are burning out of control.
Last week, more than 1100 people were taken emergency departments across the state for asthma for breathing problems, which NSW Health said was "high than usual".
The air quality across the city is currently one of the worst in the world, with experts urging people to stay indoors.
"Unfortunately this is one of the longest and worst smoky periods that I can ever recall, and it's having a huge impact on everyone, particularly with people on asthma and but more broadly than that," CEO of the Asthma Foundation Michelle Goldman told Today.
"The best course of action is to avoid breathing in the smoke, so it's pretty common sense - stay indoors wherever possible, if you can work from home do so.
"We strongly urge schools to keep kids indoors if conditions are very smoky… try and avoid being exposed to the smoke wherever possible."
Unions NSW said non-essential workers should be given the option to stay indoors or take the day off because of the smoke haze.
"As the smog persists in coming weeks, no one should feel compelled to work outdoors if their health is likely to be affected. Employers have an obligation to provide a safe workplace," Unions NSW Secretary Mark Morey said.
The NSW environment department said this season's bushfire emergency has caused "some of the highest air pollution ever seen in the state".
"NSW has experienced elevated levels of pollutants as a result of smoke of the bushfire emergency, and dust caused by the severe drought," a spokesperson said.
It is the longest and most widespread pollution on record.
"The only way the smoke stops is with rain and a lot of it," Helen Kirkup from the Bureau of Meteorology said.
"Wherever there's fire, there's smoke and wind changes might provide some temporary relief to certain places but that also just fans smoke which can just make things worse."
Almost the entire coastal area of NSW and much of the state's northeast have a severe fire danger rating today, as crews battle several mammoth blazes.
Total fire bans are in place for the far South Coast and the Monaro alpine, southern ranges, Illawarra-Shoalhaven, central ranges, Greater Sydney, Greater Hunter, northern slopes and northwestern regions.
There are 97 bushfires burning across the state on this morning and less than half were contained.
More than 2000 firefighters remain in the field battling the blazes.