"I can function," Caitlin Ross chirps when you mention the air purifier she has installed at home in Banks.
"It's normality and freedom," the shop worker said.
For her, the 2019-20 bushfires were "hellish" because of her asthma. There was no escape from the foul air, particularly because she lived only four kilometres from the smoke.
"Through the bushfires, my life was hell. We taped up the windows. We had wet towels down at the bottom of the doors. It was horrendous," she said.
It prompted her to install one. They vary in price. Hers cost $300 and keeps the air breathable in the kitchen, lounge and bathroom. She then moves it to the bedroom so she can sleep at night.
Because air purifiers made such a difference for asthma sufferers after the great smoke of the fires 18 months ago, the Asthma Association is pleading with the ACT government to give grants to poorer people so they can buy them.
In its submission as the government prepares for the budget, Asthma Australia said one in eight Canberrans were asthmatic - higher than the national average.
It said that the ACT had the highest rate of hay fever in Australia, with nearly one-third of residents suffering.
"In 2020, the ACT issued five public health alerts for thunderstorm asthma," the submission said.
There were were 47 days where the quality of Canberra's air was officially deemed poor. The amount of tiny particles exceeded the acceptable threshold.
"On the days that exceeded the standard, 35 days also exceeded the hazardous (200) threshold. The extreme fires produced pollution across several air quality measures," according to the ACT chief health officer's report last year.
Because of this, the Asthma Association wants more done: "Although the ACT government has introduced a wood heater replacement program and has moved to gas-free new developments, moves welcomed by Asthma Australia, we note that there is insufficient take-up of the wood heater replacement program."
Only 15 wood burning heaters were removed under the program last year, according to the association. The low number prompted it to look for other ways of giving asthmatic people clean air needed.
"The wood heater replacement program alone isn't enough to reduce the immediate effects of poor air quality in the ACT, as it will take time to transition away from wood-fire heaters and for the benefits of the program to be felt," the association said.
"We believe the ACT government should also assist people of low socioeconomic status who have asthma with access to air purifiers."
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