THE EFFECTS OF HAZE ON HEALTH
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IT
The people living in Malaysia aren’t at all unfamiliar with the annual haze. Returning once every year to Southeast Asian countries, without fail, is the health-threatening haze that comes as the result of the burning of forests in some countries to quickly clear land. However, what makes haze harmful, and does the arrival of haze actually spell the end for all outdoor activities? Most importantly, with the potentially, dreaded return of haze to Malaysia during the dry season, how will it affect those recovering from the Covid-19 disease? Read on to find out.
Haze is the aggregation of fine pollutants-such as smoke, dust, and toxic gases – in the atmosphere. When a place is stricken by haze, the air often appears opalescent and visibility is obscured.
WHAT ARE THE CAUSES?
Traditionally, haze occurs when fine pollutants accumulate in the atmosphere, often in dry air. When these pollutants are unable to naturally disperse due to weather conditions, its concentration increases and will therefore turn into the vision-impairing, health-threatening haze.
In Southeast Asia or Malaysia in particular, the annual haze is often the result of the slash and burn practice by the farmers in Sumatra, Indonesia. As they often do it during the dry season every year, the Southwest Monsoon winds come into play, blowing the smoke from the fires in Malaysia direction.
soot from wildfire
industrial fuel burning
WHAT ARE THE EFFECTS OF HAZE ON HUMANS?
As haze contains pollutants and irritants, it can be harmful to the human respiratory system. However, its severity varies, depending on the level of exposure. Short-term exposure to haze can result in local effects such as irritation in the nose, eyes, and throat, among other more serious complications such as the aggravation of lung diseases and even asthma attacks. Long-term exposure to haze brings potentially-fatal effects on the human health, such as the development of chronic bronchitis and an increased risk of death by cardiovascular diseases.
HOW BAD IS THE ANNUAL HAZE IN MALAYSIA?
In Malaysia, the haze is measured via the Air Pollution Index (API) reading. Here are what the API reading indicate:
In 2019’s episode of the annual haze, the API reading in Sarawak hit the 400 mark; in Klang Valley, the readings hit 149, which made it very unhealthy for children and the elderly to be outdoors. As a result, schools were forced to close down and outdoor activities were put on hold. Some offices even allowed their employees-who commute to work by motorcycle-to work from home.
It’s always ideal to remain indoors when haze strikes your area. With food and grocery delivery services available, it isn’t impossible to do so. However, if you must go outdoors, the first step is to check the API reading of the are you are heading to. Secondly, regardless of the API reading, make sure you on your respirator. You can never go wrong with a N95 respirator. N95 respirators are widely available in general stores, and provide adequate protection from the haze. Last but not least, hydrate frequently by drinking a lot of water, especially when outdoors. Carry a small bottle of water with you at all times to keep the dangers of haze at bay.
HOW CAN YOU PROTECT YOURSELF FROM THE HAZE?
As haze is a form of air pollution, there’s always a slight chance that the air in our home and office will be compromised. The last thing we want is to feel unsafe indoors. This is where air purifiers come into the picture, especially those made to combat the harmful effects of haze. Air purifiers are made to eliminate allergens and airborne pollutants in the air we breathe, among other harmful substances. With the annual haze potentially returning very soon, equip your home with the best air purifier for haze that money can buy. The effects of haze on our health should never be undermined.
All in all, always stay updated with the news, check the API reading for your destination before planning for a trip outdoors, and opt for the best air purifier you can afford to combat haze inside out. Prevention is the most definitely better than cure.