Smoke Alert – The Haze is Back!

What are the dangerous levels of pollution?

The level of air pollution is measured by the Pollution Standards Index (PSI). The following are the standards of air quality and recommended action plan by the National Environment Agency:

PSI up to 100: Good or Moderate

No action is required.

2) PSI from 101 to 200: Unhealthy

People with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities. The general public should reduce vigorous outdoor activities.

3) PSI from 201 to 300: Very Unhealthy

Elderly and people with existing heart or lung disease should stay indoors and reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities. The general public should avoid vigorous outdoor activity.

4) PSI above 400: Hazardous

Children, elderly and people with existing diseases should stay indoors and avoid outdoor activities. The general public should avoid all unnecessary outdoor activities.

How do we minimize respiratory problems?

In addition to the advice given above, the use of respiratory masks and air purifiers may help to minimize respiratory problems when the PSI falls in the unhealthy or hazardous range.

Haze consists of particulate matter (PM) with sizes 10 microns or less in diameter. Therefore, when choosing the respiratory masks and air purifiers to be used against the haze, one should ensure that these are effective in preventing PM of 10 microns or less from reaching our lower airways. (Note that PM of 10 microns or more are naturally filtered by our nostrils and throat and will not reach our lungs).

What are the symptoms for haze-related problems?

When the PSI falls in the unhealthy range, transient symptoms of irritation, such as eye irritation, sneezing or coughing, may be experienced by some of the healthy population. For people with existing underlying conditions, such as chronic heart or lung ailments, they are more susceptible to mild aggravation of symptoms like breathlessness.

If the PSI worsens, more of the healthy population may experience the transient symptoms and people with underlying conditions may suffer worsen symptoms.

What are the precautions for people who suffer asthma or respiratory problems?

People known to have asthma or chronic bronchitis may experience worsening cough, wheezing or breathlessness as a result of the haze. In addition to avoiding outdoor activities as mentioned above, these patients should ensure that they are properly taking any regular medication prescribed to them. They should also check with their doctors if increased doses or frequency of medication are necessary.