As August is coming to an end, the haze is back to signal the forest fires and burnings that are happening in the region. As of now, 29 August morning, the 24-hour PSI ranges from 71-109 and the 3-hour PSI is at 72, as listed on NEA’s website.
Although this is considered a moderate range, the haze condition is erratic and may spike unpredictably. In addition, children and elderly are generally more sensitive, and may feel the discomforts even if the haze is said to be at a low or moderate range.
According to Health Promotion Board, the main air pollutant in the event of haze in Singapore is particulate matter. Short-term exposure to the air pollutants can cause respiratory symptoms and aggravate existing heart or lung disease. Exposure to particulate matter may also cause irritation of the eyes, nose and throat in healthy individuals (From Health Hub). For babies, the haze may cause them to cough, sneeze, and have runny nose, eye irritation and dry throat. They may also experience skin allergic symptoms.
The health impact of haze is dependent on each individual. The existing health condition, the PSI level, the amount of time spent outdoors and the types of outdoor activities that one engage in, are factors that would affect the impact of haze on one’s health.
Even though it is difficult to predict the haze and who will suffer serious effects from it, you could still use some of these tips to minimize the discomforts that you and your family face during this period.
Eye drops and saline are the solution to eye irritation. But did you know that a few drops of breastmilk could help to relieve the irritation as well? In fact, breastfeeding protects the baby’s health from common ailments and strengthens the inner system.
Asthma, runny nose, dry cough
Children under the age of one should not be given cough or cold medicine. If your child’s airway and respiratory system is facing irritation, which results in coughing and runny nose, take him or her to the doctor instead of self-medicating. Asthma is usually a reaction to a trigger and haze is one of the main triggers of Asthma attacks. Hence, if your kid has a case of Asthma, keep a tab on him or her during the haze period to ensure that the condition is not triggered or worsened.
Increase your child’s intake of water, fruits, vegetables and vitamin C during this period. As the exposure to pollutants cause the throat to feel dry often, it is important to keep your child hydrated all the time. Vitamin C and nutrients from fruits and vegetables are necessary in protecting your child’s immune system and reduce the possibilities of falling sick due to the haze.
Exposure to haze is unhealthy for both adults and children. Even when at home, keep the air clean by closing all windows and doors when the PSI level is high, and use an air purifier. If your windows or doors have gaps that will still allow haze to come in, seal the gaps up or cover them with a wet cloth. If necessary, wear a mask at home. These tips may sound exaggerating but they are especially useful when the PSI levels are high.
Use a mask
There are many masks available in the market. The N95 mask is generally said to be a good protection against the haze. However, the N95 works only if it is a good fit with the face of the wearer. Hence, it is not the type of mask that matters but how you wear it. If the N95 is a good fit, most of the air will pass through the filter and not through gaps of the mask. N95 is also recommended as it provides protection against small particle pollutants that could be found in haze. Learn how to wear a mask correctly and teach your child how to use a mask effectively.