Haze occurs when dust and smoke particles accumulate in relatively dry air. The particles are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. The health impact of haze is dependent on one’s health status, the severity of the haze and how long one has been exposed to the haze.

Among healthy individuals, short term exposure to haze particles may cause irritation of the eyes, nose, and throat. The effects are usually mild and will subside when stay back to indoors and limit the exposure to haze. However, in high risk people and those suffering from chronic disease especially lungs and allergy disease, their condition may be worsened by haze.

Usual causes of haze:

• Open burning
• Smoke from factories
• Smoke from vehicles

High Risk People:

• Children
• Elderly
• People with chronic diseases such as asthma, bronchitis, lung disease, heart disease and allergy.
• Pregnant women
• Smokers
• Outdoor workers

Symptoms of short term exposure:

• Throat irritation, sore throat, coughing
• Eye irritation, watering eyes, conjunctivitis
• Running nose, stuffy nose, sneezing
• Skin irritation, ezcema
• Headache, dizziness
• Chest tightness
• Short of breath

Haze can aggravates existing chronic diseases:

• Acute bronchitis
• Asthma
• Pneumonia
• Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
• Heart diseases

Air Pollution Index (API) is used as a guide to the air quality and indentifies the impacts on health as follows:

API

Status

Health Effect

Health Advice

0 – 50

Good

Low pollution without any bad effect on health.

 

No restriction for outdoor activities to the public. Maintain healthy lifestyle.

51 – 100

Moderate

Moderate pollution that does not pose any bad effect on health. No restriction for outdoor activities to the public. Maintain healthy lifestyle.

101 – 200

Unhealthy

Worsen the health condition of high risk people. Limited outdoor activities for the high risk people. Public need to reduce outdoor activities.

201- 300

Very Unhealthy

Worsen the health condition and low tolerance of physical exercises to people with heart and lung complications. Affect public health. Old and high risk people are advised to stay indoor and reduce physical activities. People with health complications are advised to see doctor.

>300

Hazardous

Hazardous to high risk people and public health. Old and high risk people are prohibited for outdoor activities. Public are advised to prevent from outdoor activities.

Action to take during haze

• Pay attention to local air quality updates. (http://apims.doe.gov.my/apims/hourly3.php)
• When API> 100, reduce outdoor activities and physical exertion.
• If you need to be outdoor, wear a face mask.
• Ensure your indoor air is always clean and well ventilate.
• Use an air purifier or ionizer to reduce the indoor particle level.
• Ensure maintenance of the air conditioner with regular cleaning and servicing.
• Use air-conditioner in your vehicle. Select the re-circulate air mode.
• Wash face and body parts that were exposed to haze with clean water after performing or attending outdoor activities.
• Take your medication regularly if suffering from an existing disease, especially heart and lung diseases.
• Drink plenty of water to stay well hydrated.
• Increase the intake of fresh fruits and vegetables, balanced diet to maintain body immune system.
• Exercise indoor. Remain active during haze to stay healthy. Indoor exercise such as gym, badminton, squash, dancing, yoga.
• Avoid smoking.
• Seek immediate medical attention if your health condition gets worse.

Reference:
1. http://www.moh.gov.my/english.php/pages/view/184
2. http://www.met.gov.my/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=70&Itemid=160
3. http://www.jasa.gov.my/en/gallery/lang-bm-arkib-lang-lang-en-archive-lang/2-uncategorised/98-lang-bm-panduan-kesihatan-menghadapi-jerebu-lang-lang-en-health-tips-during-the-haze-lang.html
4. http://apims.doe.gov.my/apims/General%20Info%20of%20Air%20Pollutant%20Index.pdf
5. http://apims.doe.gov.my/apims/hourly3.php

*This information is provided for educational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for medical advice or treatment from a health care provider. Like any printed material, it may become out-of-date over time.

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