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Brace for the haze

Posted on 2019-05-10 02:30:00

Haze season could be coming around again…

Every year, Malaysia, along with our SEA neighbours, are forced to endure the haze season caused by industrial-scale illegal agricultural burning that mainly takes place in the Sumatra Island and Kalimantan of Indonesia.

According to the BBC, the forests and plantations are burnt in order to make way for palm oil, pulp and paper plantations. Small-scale farmers as well as larger corporations are the culprits in this case, chasing the lucrative cash that the sale from those commodities bring.

The haze often covers hundreds of kilometres, affecting Malaysia, Southern Thailand, The Philippines and the whole of Singapore. The pollution is clearly felt with the smog clouding the air making it grey while in Sumatra and Kalimantan, the air turns a horrifying yellowish brown.

Authorities in Indonesia however say that they are not 100 per cent to blame as investors in the corporations guilty of burning are in fact Malaysians and Singaporeans. This led to the Singaporean government passing a law in 2014 to persecute individuals and organisations that contribute to the haze.

Exposure to fine particles in the haze is detrimental to our health. Particularly affecting the eyes (risking inflammation and conjunctivitis), the throat (potentially clogging the respiratory tract), and of course the lungs. Those suffering from lung or heart complications may start to feel breathlessness as the Air Pollutant Index (API) increases.

If you feel it in the air this year, here are six ways to beat the haze!

Avoid exposure
The best way is to stay away. Keep outdoor activities to a minimal, especially exercise. Intense exercises will cause us to breathe harder, which means we’ll be breathing in more smoke particles than usual.

Change your diet
The change in diet helps assist our body in fighting the haze particles we’ll be breathing in. it’s advisable to consume foods rich in omega-3 like salmon and eggs, vitamin C like oranges and kiwi, and vitamin E like vegetable oils, nuts and green leafy vegetables.

Invest in an air purifier/ionizer
Avoiding exposure means you’ll be staying indoors a lot. However, the quality of air within the comfort of your own house isn’t 100 per cent safe. Air purifiers help remove air contaminants and improve the quality of air mainly using fans or filters. Air ionizers on the other hand purify the air using negative ions charged from electricity.

Mask it
There will be times during the haze season when you have to leave the house (like going to work). Carry an N-95 mask (blocks up to 95 per cent of small particles) with you for optimal protection.

Don’t add more smoke!
Should we say more? You’re at further risk of lung and throat irritation if you continue smoking during the hazy season.

Pay attention to the API
Watch out for API readings during the haze season. When the haze kicks into full swing, newspapers tend to report API readings on the daily. An API of above 100 is considered unhealthy while 300 is hazardous. You can check out an hourly API reading here.

Picture from AFP

By Ahmed Wafi

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