Category: Current Affairs
Published on Tuesday, 21 October 2014 00:00
Our annual visitor, the haze is back in town. Even though the PSI levels have not yet hit the hazardous levels of last year, it has already crossed into the unhealthy range more than once. But thing that you should really be worried about is the PM 2.5 index. Since the haze's return it has regularly has hit unhealthy levels.
Why should you worry about the PM2.5 index even though the PSI index may say the air quality outside is moderate? Because as much as 94% of haze particles are below 2.5 micrometers in diameter (that's 30 times smaller than the width of a strand of hair.) These ultra small particles are extremely light. They travel further and linger in the air longer and have high chances of being inhaled by living organisms. These fine particles created from the Indonesian forest fires contain matter such ash, lead and sulfur dioxide. Lead is a heavy metal that is poisonous to humans. Sulfur Dioxide is a gas that will turn into sulfuric acid when it dissolves in water (it is found in acid rain).
The amount you inhale when you expose yourself to the haze is in truth a minuscule amount that will not cause any immediate damage to your body. But repeated extended exposures to the haze will build up and start to affect your health. People with respiratory or heart conditions will be especially vulnerable to complications associated with the haze.
Here are some tips on what you should do to keep yourself healthy while the haze is in town.
1. Keep the haze out
Keep all your windows and front door shut during this period to reduce your exposure to the haze. This is minimize the amount of haze particles that enter your home. Yes, it may get stuffy indoors but it's better than making yourself more susceptible to falling ill. Keep your windows closed until the air quality readings improve into the moderate or good range. Check the air quality readings at this site (http://aqicn.org/city/singapore/
) and pay close attention to the PM2.5 index. Remember: there are millions of micro particles floating in the air outside even if the visibility outside looks ok.
2. Use air purifier indoors
If your household can afford it, get an air purifier to filter the air in your home. It is very difficult to make a home 100% air tight and some haze will still somehow seep into your home even after you shut all your windows and doors. If you and your family can't afford an air purifier, try boiling some water and use the steam to clear the air.
3. Stay hydrated and drink at least 2 litres of water a day during this period
Exposure to the haze allows haze toxins to be absorbed by our lungs and skin. Our kidneys and liver will be working extra hard to clear these out from our system. Help your body to flush the toxins out by staying hydrated and drinking lots of water. Make sure you give your pets plenty of water as well.
4. Cut out coffee and alcohol from your diet
Coffee and alcohol dehydrates your system, making it harder for your kidneys to function. You'll want as much water in your to flush out haze toxins. Drinking alcohol and coffee will be detrimental to that goal and end up allowing the toxins to stay inside you for a longer time.
5. Help yourself by being well equipped
Haze particles can cause the following conditions in people:
1. Runny noses: the particles irritate your nasal passages which stimulates mucous production and this causes your nose to get stuffed up.
2. Sore throat: If your throat is feeling scratchy or sore it's because your respiratory track is being irritated by the air pollutants.
3. Sore eyes: your eyes will literally smart and dry out.
4. Lung tissue inflammation and scaring: People with lung or heart issues are especially vulnerable to this and could start to have problems breathing.
Avoid falling ill by making sure you're getting your daily vitamin dosage from proper eating. Note: vitamin supplements do not contain as much vitamins as the food you eat and are not as readily absorbed either. Keep up your intake by eating a healthy balanced diet instead of popping store bought vitamin supplements.
Take more baths to rinse away any toxin residues on your skin. The longer you leave haze toxin residues on your skin the more your body will absorb them through your skin.
Stay indoors as much as possible. If you have to go out, then make sure you wear a N95 mask and not the blue surgical ones. Yes, the N95 masks are uncomfortable but they do filter out the PM2.5 particles. Make sure you wear your mask correctly so it fits snugly around your face. Surgical masks are not designed for use as particulate respirators and do not provide as much respiratory protection as an N95 respirator. Surgical masks provide barrier protection against droplets including large respiratory particles. Most surgical masks do not effectively filter small particles from the air and do not prevent leakage around the edge of the mask when the user inhales.
6. Must have items with you at all times
N95 masks, eye drops, water bottles, tissues and wet wipes. They will help your body cope with the exposure to the air pollutants floating in the air.
7. See a doctor immediately if any health problems develop
The haze will cause and exacerbate respiratory and skin ailments. It is common to experience sore throat, coughing and runny nose during this period because your body produces more mucus to capture and help excrete the haze toxins from your body. People with lung, heart or eczema are especially be vulnerable during this period. Get yourself to a doctor as soon as possible if you start exhibiting any flu symptoms and give your body a much needed break if you do fall ill.