Haze and Air Pollution Index
Haze is a condition of compromised air quality, wherein the atmosphere becomes contaminated with airborne particles, including substances like sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide, and Particulate Matter 10, commonly referred to as PM10 (particles measuring 10 microns or less).
Haze is identifiable by the atmosphere taking on an opalescent appearance and reduced visibility. It occurs when sunlight interacts with minuscule pollutant particles in the air. These particles absorb and scatter portions of sunlight before it reaches us, diminishing clarity, altering colours, and ultimately degrading air quality.
The Air Pollution Index (API), established by the Environment Division of the Department of Natural Resources and Environment, serves as the yardstick for air quality assessment.
The primary role of the API is to gauge air quality status and its potential health implications stemming from haze. It is worth noting that the adverse health effects become more pronounced as the API level rises.
|Air Pollutant Index (API) Value||Air Quality Status|
|101-200||Unhealthy – susceptible group of people might be affected|
|201-300||Very Unhealthy – public is affected|
|Above 300||Dangerous / Hazardous – public is affected|
Follow latest API updates on APIMS website.
Individuals at risk of developing health effects due to haze
There are groups of individuals who are more susceptible to developing health effects due to haze. They may find that their condition worsens even with what normal and healthy individuals may consider mild exposure.
- Those who have respiratory issues such as asthma, bronchitis, and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD)
- Those who have cardiac disorders such as coronary artery disease
Health effects of haze
Haze exposure can lead to a range of detrimental health consequences. When individuals are exposed to haze, these tiny particles can penetrate deeply into the lungs, giving rise to health issues.
These particles can infiltrate the bloodstream and become absorbed by underlying tissues, possibly interacting with other compounds within the body, thus triggering adverse effects, including inflammation.
Common short-term adverse effects of exposure to haze
- Breathing difficulties, chest tightness, chest pain, shortness of breath.
- Throat irritation, dry throat, sore throat and/or or cough, phlegm.
- Runny nose, nasal congestion, sneezing, and/or nasal discharge.
- Upper respiratory tract infections.
- Eye irritation, excessive tears secretion, and/or conjunctivitis (a type of eye infection).
- Skin irritation.
- Headache, dizziness, tiredness and/or stress.
Typically, these symptoms are mild and tend to disappear when exposure to haze decreases.
Potential long-term adverse effects of exposure to haze
- Most particles in haze are less than 2.5 microns in diameter. Therefore, these ultra-small particles remain in the air longer and are easily transported over long distances, making them more likely to be inhaled by animals and humans.
- May contribute to increased risk of death from cardiovascular disease and reduction in life expectancy.
- May contribute to the development of diabetes.
- May contribute to spontaneous abortion, low birth weight infants, congenital abnormalities, and infant mortality.
Steps to protect yourself from haze
Following are recommended steps to prevent or minimise the effects of haze on your health:
- Reduce outdoor activities or limit the time spent outdoors to avoid exposure to the hot weather and haze.
- Mask up when outdoors.
- Avoid smoking because smoking increases indoor air pollutants.
- Drink plenty of water (at least 8 glasses of water) per day to maintain your body’s hydration level so that your body temperature is regulated.
- Frequent washing of hands and the face after outdoor activities.
- Use an air purifier indoors if possible.
- Keep indoor premises and environment clean.
- Use the air-recirculation mode when using the air-conditioner while driving.
- Take frequent baths to cool down.
- Avoid wearing thick, tight, and dark-coloured clothes.
Make an appointment at Gleneagles Hospitals
During the haze season, it is advisable to adopt necessary precautions to minimise the effects of haze on your health. If you or your loved ones experience any discomfort, seek medical assistance promptly.
If you encounter a situation that requires medical attention during the haze season, please seek immediate medical attention at the Accident and Emergency (A&E) department at your nearest Gleneagles Hospital.