In recent decades, the occurrence of haze has already become an “annual event” in Southeast Asia, especially Malaysia and Singapore, Most people know that the serious haze condition is mainly caused by the burning afforested land in Indonesia, but have you wonder how the haze could travel so far to reach to our country?
This is because of the climatic phenomenon called “El Nino” resulting in hot and dry weather in Indonesia, and this kind of weather is extremely conducive for forest horning. Coincidently, the southwest monsoon season happens at the same period as the hot and dry in Indonesia, which is around June to September. The strong winds of the monsoon season help to spread the haze throughout Southeast Asia. Unfortunately, Singapore has become one of the victim countries every year.
WHAT IS PM2.5?
Haze can be defined as a high concentration of air pollutants distributed in the atmosphere. These pollutants are mainly smoke particles, consisting of carbon monoxide, ozone, and the most dangerously particulate matter with particle size below 2.5 microns, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. This particulate matter is also known as PM2.5.
Due to its small particle size and low density, PM2.5 is suspended in the atmosphere, hence it tends to be inhaled into our body when we breathe. Furthermore, tiny particles of PM2.5 cannot be filtered by the respiratory system, which means that PM2.5 can deeply penetrate into the lungs and eventually reach the bloodstream.
WHAT ARE THE ADVERSE EFFECTS CAUSED BY HAZE?
For healthy people, haze can cause short-term health effects including throat dryness, sore throat, coughing, sneezing, eye irritation, and shortness of breath. For those with existing medical conditions such as asthma, sinusitis, bronchitis, and chronic cough, their condition could be worsened by the haze.
They might experience severe difficulty In breathing, and they need to increase the frequency of visits to medical doctors to follow up on their condition. Most dangerously, long-term exposure to haze can lead to the weakening of lung function, the development of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPP), and increased susceptibility to respiratory infections such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.
HOW TO MINIMIZE THE ADVERSE EFFECTS BROUGHT BY THE HAZE?
Firstly, we should avoid outdoor activities, especially our exercise, to reduce the inhalation of air pollutants. Keeping an eye on the Air Pollutant Index (API) is important during the haze period. When the API reading raises above 100, we should stay indoors as much as possible.
If outdoor activity is unavoidable, wear a mask is an excellent method to minimize the inhalation of polluted air. To filter haze particles, the N95 mask (top) should be chosen Instead of the surgical mask (bottom), as the N95 mask is capable of filtering haze particles up to 0.1 to 0.3 microns.
Maintaining a good respiratory system is a crucial way to minimize adverse effects during the haw period. When the respiratory tract and lungs are healthy enough, we would have a stronger defense system to protect our body, hence less susceptible to infection and inflammation caused by the pollutants. Taking supplements such as Vitamin C and Tiger Milk Mushroom Is a good way to boost our Immune system and maintain the health of our respiratory system. Last but not least, although “drink more water” is considered as common sense, it is still important advice to the public, because it could keep our throat moist and reduce throat itchiness.