19 June 2013

Singapore Haze - into a puff of smoke

back from Hong Kong the rainy land, and into Singapore a smoky land... the haze condition is bad now - with PSI reading at 124 - an unhealthy level - NEA's advisory is "Persons with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity. The general population should reduce vigorous outdoor activity." and yes, that includes running for the bus. Staying healthy is more important than being late for work, at least you have a reasonable excuse now LOL

Going out for lunch without an air mask was close to hazardous with everyone choking on the thick smoke and almost bumping into poles with the poor visibility. i was left breathless walking a short distance. maybe I'm exaggerating, but I've since lost the nice sea view that I can see on a normal day from my workstation.. and my hair and cardigan stinks being less than 10 mins out in the open to walk to the food court... it's worse than walking into a puff of cigarette smoke as there is no shunning away... i think my thin surgical mask won't work. i might need to get the N95 mask soon :(

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy
The following is some information I pulled out from Singapore's National Environment Agency:

Managing Haze

Singapore has been affected by severe smoke haze due to forest fires in the region periodically. This is due to the common practise of open burning to clear land for agricultural uses. It can be made worse by dry seasons, changes in wind direction and poor precipitation. Prevailing winds sometimes carry smoke haze produced by the forest fires over Singapore’s skies. This is especially so during the Southwest Monsoon Season.

While the ultimate solution to the issue of haze lies in collaborative efforts to reduce the burning of forest cover, Singapore is also taking action to ensure that its population is better equipped to deal with haze when it occurs.This includes early warning of haze, measurement and dissemination of air quality information, and guidelines for dealing with haze related issues by the NEA.

The PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) measures air quality and determines the severity of a smoke haze. Health effects are dependent on the severity of the smoke haze as described by the PSI. A PSI of 101 and above is deemed unhealthy.

The main pollutant of health concern during a smoke haze is the fine particulate matter or PM10 (particulate of size 10 micron and below). These particulates enter air-conditioned buildings through the fresh air intake and by infiltration through openings and gaps. The particulate levels indoor can thus build up to unhealthy levels, resulting in undesirable health effects on the building occupants. It can also adversely affect the efficiency of the air-conditioning system.

When the 24-h PSI level exceeds 150 in the 'Unhealthy' range, people with existing heart or respiratory ailments or those who are more susceptible to smoke haze are advised to wear a respiratory mask when they go outdoor. People with respiratory ailments are however, advised to consult their doctors on the use of respirator masks.

Respiratory masks, such as N95 masks, are designed to keep out fine particulate matter and hence, protect the wearers from breathing in the smoke haze particles in the air. The mask should be changed when it gets soiled or distorted in shape. Surgical masks and paper masks do not provide adequate protection from the haze particles.

Respiratory masks are available in commercial pharmacies and in SingHealth polyclinics or NHG polyclinics. The public is advised to consult the pharmacists in attendance for advice on the right mask to use. The instructions for using the respiratory masks are provided with the masks. The public can also seek the advice of the sales staff or pharmacists on how to use the mask.