Monday 21 September 2015

Return of The HAZE!

Our unwelcomed visitor is back!  Yes, it’s that time of the year my friends.  An annual event not to be missed.  This friend does not bring the fresh fragrance of flowers or sunny clear blue skies.  It brings with it the dreaded HAZE!  “Go away! Why do you bug us every year?” most of us will say.  But it cares not!  So out comes our boring face masks except for a fashionable few who will don colourful and fancy ones.

The haze in Kuala Lumpur

The bare facts
What is this dreaded haze?  Why does it make an appearance between July – October annually in our part of the world? 

Haze is an atmospheric condition where particles, smoke, dust and moisture suspend in the air obscuring visibility.  More pollutants mean more light is absorbed and scattered by the particles. Some types of particles such as sulfates, scatter more light, particularly during humid conditions.  

Slash and burn agriculture.  A technique that involves the cutting and burning of trees to create fields.  Typical in shifting cultivation agriculture, and in transhumance livestock herding.  Today the main method used by small farmers and plantation owners in the tropics.  Uses little technology.  

Nasa satellite data shows multiple fires in mid-September 2015 in the eastern part of Sumatra island and the southern part of Kalimantan island of Indonesia 

What can happen to us?
The haze we are experiencing at Malaysia, Singapore & Indonesia is short-term in nature. 

We may experience the following if exposed continuously to unhealthy daily Air Pollutants Index (API) levels over a period of a few days:
Irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat in healthy individuals.
Can affect the heart and lungs, especially in people who already have chronic heart or lung disease e.g. asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), or heart failure.

How can we protect ourselves?
Pay attention to local air quality updates
Avoid outdoor activities, especially outdoor sports
Close all windows, doors and any openings that may allow haze to enter your home and office
Use an air purifier to keep the particulate levels low
Keep air conditioner in tip-top working condition with regular cleaning and servicing
If you are staying in a building with a central air conditioning system, install an air cleaning device 
Take your medication regularly if you are suffering from an existing disease, especially heart disease and respiratory disease
Drink more water and increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables
Limit or avoid smoking indoor and the use of gas stove, wood fireplace, candles, incense and anything that burns and emits smoke
Avoid driving if visibility is bad
Under severe haze condition, wear a respirator if you must go outside

Here’s wishing clear skies & fresh air soon.  Mr. Haze, you are not welcomed next year and the years after!

Shared by Azni Zainal Abidin
Guest Blogger

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