Blog: Effects of Haze on Your Health | CUCKOO Singapore

THE EFFECTS OF HAZE ON HEALTH
&
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IT

THE EFFECTS OF HAZE ON HEALTH
&
HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF FROM IT

The people living in Singapore aren’t at all unfamiliar with the annual haze. Returning once every year to Southeast Asian countries, without fail, is the health-threatening haze resulting from 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, how will the potentially dreaded haze return to Singapore during the dry season 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, their concentration increases and will therefore turn into a vision-impairing, health-threatening haze.

In Southeast Asia or Singapore 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 during the dry season every year, the Southwest Monsoon winds come into play, blowing the smoke from the fires in Singapore’s direction.

CAUSES OF HAZE

soot from wildfire
industrial fuel burning
motor vehicle

EFFECTS OF HAZE
ON HUMANS

eyes inflammation
nasal irritation
throat infection

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 SINAGPORE?

In Singapore, the haze is measured via the Pollution Standard Index (PSI) reading. Here are what the PSI reading indicate:

In 2019’s episode of the annual haze, the PSI reading in Singapore crossed the 100 level into the unhealthy range; the West region recorded the highest, with readings hitting 121. As a result, the government has taken haze management measures by enhancing the well-being of students in schools with air purifiers across MOE Kindergartens and Special Education schools. In addition, health advisories are issued to remind the public to limit their exposure to haze and guidelines set by the Ministry of Health.

WHEN OUTDOORS

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 1-hour PM2.5 reading and PSI forecast reading of the area you are heading to. Secondly, regardless of the PSI reading, ensure you are on your respirator. You can never go wrong with an N95 respirator. N95 respirators are widely available in general stores and provide adequate protection from 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.

WHEN INDOORS

All in all, always stay updated with the news, check the 1-hour PM2.5 reading and PSI forecast 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 most definitely better than cure.

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