It’s very OBVIOUS that somethings wrong, when you look out the window and can barely see the building across the street. And unfortunately it’s not due to really low flying clouds and foggy mists that bring cool, clear refreshing air. The haze due to the burning of forests in Indonesia, is really affecting air quality and everyone’s health.
The haze is caused by tiny microns of dust and smoke particles in the air. The higher concentration of particles, the more dense the haze, limiting visibility and causing all sorts of health concerns.
Singapore has hit record highs last night, with the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) index reaching 321 at 10pm. Currently, the last PSI reading at 1pm is 371. Both are regarded as HAZARDOUS! (As reported by National Environment Agency, Singapore)
There’s been some question on whether to look at PSI readings Vs. AQI (Air Quality Index). The big difference between the two is that AQI readings also incorporate fine particles (of 2.5 micrometres), where PSI does not. These fine particles are more detrimental to health.
RIght now the AQI in Central Singapore is 178, which is in the ‘UNHEALTHY’ category: where everyone may begin to feel health effects. People of sensitive groups (elderly, young children, pre-existing conditions like asthma, heart and lung disease) may experience more serious health effects. (As defined by AirNow.)
If you are unsure if you are being affected, here’s a short list of common effects people may feel, and what you can do about it.
1. Eye irritation
Saline solution eye drops found in pharmacies generally work well. Those wearing contacts should find temporarily using glasses instead, will be more comfortable.
2. Cough / Throat dryness / Runny Nose
Drinking enough water and taking zinc, and slightly higher dose of Vitamin C consistently will help. If the throat is very uncomfortable, various types of syrups and lozenges would help alleviate symptoms. Use of face mask, (preferably the N95 respirators) is highly recommended. If you have asthma, or other infections, avoid being outdoors for prolonged periods of time, and outdoor physical activity.
3. Asthma / Breathlessness
In severe cases, sometimes triggered by physical activity, asthma attacks and breathlessness can occur. I believe most Polyclinics in Singapore have facilities to help with these cases, and if not calling an ambulance may be the best solution.
The bottom line, is to use common sense. Closing doors and windows, using air conditioning and air purifiers and minimizing your exposure to breathing the polluted air will help. I’ve been asked “Can I still run?” or “I went cycling for 90 minutes, and got used to the air. Does that mean I’m not affected?” My answer is simple. Try not to do exercise outdoors. Minimizing risk, with prevention is always much better, (and smarter) than trying to fix the problems later. If there’s an alternative to use a gym, do that instead. Whether you are ok now, does not mean you are immune. It will accumulate, and the choice is yours.
Be Safe, Breathe Safe.+Gary Tho