When there is haze, try to stay indoors as much as possible, advises the Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine from Singapore General Hospital (SGH).
People with heart or respiratory diseases, as well as young children and elderly, should avoid going outdoors whilst the haze lasts in Singapore, advise experts. Even if you don’t have a pre-existing health condition, you should reduce your outdoor physical activity when the air quality is hazy and unhealthy.
For the latest air quality readings, visit the National Environment Agency (NEA) website at www.nea.gov.sg.
A PSI reading of:
The smoke haze is an annual occurrence in Singapore and typically occurs in the May to October period. It is caused by winds bringing in tiny particles of ash from forest fires burning around the region due to farmers using slash-and-burn to clear land.
These particles are called PM2.5 (2.5 refers to the size in microns of the particulate matters). Breathing in an excess of these particles can increase a person’s risk of developing viral and bacterial infections, as well as heart and lung diseases, cancer and stroke. While the bigger air particles are filtered out by the respiratory tract, tiny particles are typically deposited in the lungs. These tiny particles can accumulate over time and harm the body.
“Existing health conditions such as eczema, asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and eye diseases like conjunctivitis are made worse by air pollution,” says
Assoc Prof Loo Chian Min, Senior Consultant,
Department of Respiratory and Critical Care Medicine,
Singapore General Hospital (SGH), a member of the
“Even healthy people can suffer from irritation in the eyes, nose and throat, coughing and sneezing, if they spend time outdoors during a smoke haze.”
Ways to protect yourself from the haze
Take the following steps to protect yourself from the haze in Singapore:
- Minimise or avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when PSI levels are above 100
- When indoors, close doors and windows when outdoor air quality appears to be worsening
- Roll up the windows of your car if you are driving
- Use an air-conditioner in your home to help remove pollutants
- Use an air ioniser or air purifier to catch very small particles
- Drink more water than usual – this helps the kidneys flush out any toxins absorbed through the skin and lungs
- Cut down on coffee and alcohol – these promote fluid loss and leach nutrients from the body
- Build up your immunity with foods rich in vitamin C (oranges, guava, strawberries), vitamin E (nuts and seeds) and omega-3 fatty acids (oily fish)
- Cover your nose and mouth when you go out for prolonged periods
Do note that N95 masks are not needed for short exposures outdoors and in an indoor environment.
Check out our other articles about haze and air pollution:
How to Protect Your Child from the Haze
How to Protect Newborns from the Haze
Health Effects of Air Pollution