Many of us have been affected by the haze which has reached very high levels in recent days.
This page aims to give some straightforward facts and practical advice to help you cope with this problem.

Haze – what can we do?

The haze phenomenon has hit Malaysia and Singapore again due to hot spots in Sumatera. The haze contains smoke and dust particles and lingers in the air resulting in reduced visibility. When it comes into contact with the body, it can produce symptoms to the eyes, skin and breathing systems. The way haze is measured is by using an index called Air Pollution Index (API) or Pollution Standards Index (PSI) in other countries. The higher the number, the worse the haze and the implications to our health.

Symptoms that can occur when in contact with haze:

  • Eye irritation
  • Skin irritation
  • Breathing problems: cough, shortness of breath, chest discomfort or tightness
  • Throat discomfort and dryness

In people who are susceptible, the haze may cause worse symptoms or aggravation of pre-existing conditions.

People who are susceptible:

  • Known to have respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Known to have heart disease such as heart failure or coronary artery disease
  • Small children, babies and the elderly
  • Smokers
  • Pregnant ladies
  • People with allergies

Ways to minimize effects of haze to our body:

  • Drink plenty of plain water and wash our faces frequently
  • Minimise outdoor activities
  • Avoid smoking and cigarette smoke
  • When driving, close all windows and activate recycle air mode
  • Close all house windows
  • Use a mask that can cover the mouth and nose properly if there is a need to be outdoors

People who develop breathing difficulties or excessive cough should seek prompt medical attention.  Patients who are known to have medical illnesses should take their medications as prescribed by their doctors. Patients who are on inhalers should continue taking their preventative medications and carry their reliever medication with them at all times. This is a good time for smokers to stop smoking completely.

Who is recommended to use N95..?

  • Those working outside PCMC building eg. Concierge, Auxillary Police, facilities staff working outside, gardeners and others.
  • Those stationed near entrance with sliding doors (main lobby, ER entrance) eg. ER PSAs, Paramedics, Nurses, Patient Relation Officers and others.
  • Staff with past medical problems such as:
    • Any respiratory conditions especially those with asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases.
    • Any heart diseases especially those with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure.
    • Any history of ear, nose and throat problems such as allergic nasal conditions or problem with sinusitis.
    • Chronic diseases such as diabetes as patients with diabetes are more prone to cardiac conditions.

When do we need to wear a mask..?

  • The general recommendation is for healthy people to minimise outdoor activities when the API is greater than 100 or when the PM2.5 is greater than 40.
  • For those who are of higher risk, you should minimise outdoor activities when the API is greater than 80 or when the PM2.5 is greater than 15.
  • When the 24-h API level exceeds 150 in the ‘Unhealthy’ range or when PM2.5 is greater than 40, people with existing heart or respiratory ailments or those who are more susceptible to smoke haze are advised to wear a respiratory mask such as N95 masks (designed to keep out fine particulate matter) when they go outdoors.
  • People with respiratory diseases should consult their doctors on the use of respirator masks if they intend to use them.
  • Surgical masks and paper masks do not provide adequate protection from the haze particles.
  • It is recommended for anyone experiencing any symptoms relating to irritation of the eye, nose and throat or any chest symptoms such as difficulty breathing or chest pain to consult their doctors.

This extract, from The Star newspaper, is an easy to read FAQ about the haze problem.
Click here for the PDF: What is Haze?

API Air Pollution
Level
Health Implications
0 – 50 Excellent 1. No health implications
51 – 100 Good 1. No health implications
101 – 150 Slightly Polluted 1. Slight irritations may occur, individuals with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.
151 – 200 Lightly Polluted 1. Slight irritations may occur, individuals with breathing or heart problems should reduce outdoor exercise.
201 – 250 Moderately Polluted 1. Healthy people will be noticeably affected.
2. People with breathing or heart problems will experience reduced endurance in activities.
3. These individuals and elders should remain indoors and restrict activities.
251 – 300 Heavily Polluted 1. Healthy people will be noticeably affected.
2. People with breathing or heart problems will experience reduced endurance in activities.
3. These individuals and elders should remain indoors and restrict activities.
300+ Severely Polluted 1. Healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities.
2. There may be strong irritations and symptoms and may trigger other illnesses.
3. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise.
4. Healthy individuals should avoid outdoor activities.