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Haze Help

Don’t get hazed by this health hazard

iStock_000038324918_LargeWith the recent bush fire in Malaysia on 12 February which affected the landfill site in southern Johor, the smell of haze once again pervaded the air over our small island. Singapore residents, especially in Sengkang, Hougang and Serangoon, were subject to hazy conditions more commonly beginning around the middle of the year.

Whether you’re bothered by the odour or not, haze particles can pose a serious health hazard.

So how does the haze affect you, and what can you do to protect yourself and your loved ones? Here’s some help for getting through the hazy days.

Young handsome bearded doctor controls chest x-rayHow the Haze Hurts You

Haze consists of particles, smoke, dust and moisture that float about in the air and obscure visibility. These may come from various sources, such as industrial activities, exhaust fumes from vehicles, ‘slashing and burning’ of land for growing crops, and of course, forest fires.

The particles in haze may affect the eyes and skin. When breathed in, they can cause further health issues, such as irritation of the nose and throat.

These are some of the common symptoms you may experience during a haze:

  • Watery eyes
  • Runny nose
  • Itchy throat or cough
  • Wheezing
  • Chest pain
  • Breathlessness or breathing difficulties
  • Headache or dizziness

These symptoms usually clear up after a few days for most healthy adults, but certain people may be more sensitive to the effects of haze. These include children, the elderly, pregnant women and people with allergies or respiratory conditions such as asthma, as well as those with lung or heart diseases.

Excessive Exposure

Up to 94% of the particles in a haze are ‘fine’ particles, with a diameter less than 2.5 micrometres. That’s 30 times smaller than the width of a human hair. Fine particles stay suspended in the air for longer periods of time and can be carried for long distances, so you are more likely to breathe these in.

A double whammy – not only are fine particles toxic to the lungs, their tiny size also allows them to easily penetrate deep into the lungs. They may even pass into the bloodstream and into surrounding body tissues, leading to adverse effects such as inflammation.

Some possible risks associated with long-term exposure to fine particles are:

  • Development of vascular disease
  • Death by cardiovascular disease
  • Shortened life expectancy
  • Development of diabetes
  • Respiratory symptoms such as sinusitis
  • Impaired pulmonary function
  • Spontaneous abortion in expectant mothers, underweight infants, birth defects and infant death

Hide from the Haze!smiling  woman doing core workout, warm up  body

Here’s what you can do when the haze hits a high:

  • Avoid unnecessary outdoor activity, especially sports. If you must exercise outdoors, stay away from high-traffic areas, particularly during peak hours.
  • Stay indoors when the 24-hour PSI is > 100.
  • Keep windows and doors closed to prevent the haze from entering your building. The same goes when you are driving.
  • Drinking waterUse an indoor air purifier or air-conditioner with a filter.
  • Avoid burning anything indoors – that includes smoking, lighting incense or scent candles, using a gas stove or burning any material that emits smoke.
  • Drink lots of water to help rid your body of toxins absorbed through the skin.Lecithin supplement capsulesiStock_000011161344_Large
  • Load up on foods high in Vitamin C, Vitamin E and omega-3 fatty acids to build up your immune system. Fresh fruits and vegetables are a good source of vitamins, while you can get your omega-3 fatty acids from fish such as salmon and tuna.
  • Cover your nose and mouth if you really must go out. You can also consider using a respirator. Respirators work better than masks because they are able to seal better and keep polluted air out. In addition, respirators come with the right filter to remove fine particles from haze.Listening heartbeat
  • Take your medication as prescribed if you have an existing medical condition, especially heart disease or respiratory disease.
  • See a doctor if you experience a severe reaction such as chest pain or severe breathlessness, as this could be a symptom of a serious condition.
Posted by ezyhealth on Mar 31 2015. Filed under Health. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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