Thursday, October 12, 2006


HAZE is affecting our country again. Almost every year we confront with HAZE - a consequence of human activity of extreme burning of forest and uncontrolled open burning. Science and technology still unable to prevent it from occur and recur. It signify the limitation of the science and technology, the most we can do is to emulate the natural process - producing artificial rain.
What is HAZE? How it affects our health and safety?
It is composed of solid or particulate matter, gases and liquid droplets which are collectively only visible to the naked eye. Individually it is invisible.With increase in humidity, these particles grow in size making the HAZE become more dense and affecting the distance visibility of the surrounding.This may cause accident between land and river or sea transport.
The HAZE usually originated from a source of open burning. In our case, the open burning activity in Indonesia is the main culprit. Inter-monsoon wind brought the components of haze from these sources to our places.
Gas components of the haze - Sulphur dioxide and Nitrogen Oxide - when in contact with the mucus membranes of our upper respiratory tract or conjunctiva will produce weak acid in the form of sulphic and nitric acid. These two acid will cause local irritation effect result in conjunctivitis and upper respiratory tract inflammation.
So, now this explained the rising numbers of these two cases during HAZE throughout our country.
Surprisingly, cases of ASTHMA are also increasing according to the press statement from Ministry of Health. Studies on Haze by Dr JeyaIndran, our local expert in Respiratory Medicine, in 1991 when our country was affected by HAZE for 160 days, showed significant rise in PM10 but no concomitant rise in cases of acute asthma. His study on HAZE in 1997 also revealed no acute episodes significant rise of asthma despite of increased in API reading. So the report of increasing in Asthma cases during current HAZE should be analysed properly inorder to show its significant.
What should we do? When API reading more that 200,it indicates a very unhealthy condition because of the risk of normal individual suffering the ill effects of HAZE i.e. Upper respiratory tract infections and conjunctivitis - the following advice should be followed:
1. Stay indoors especially to HIGH RISK people - Elderly, Children and those who suffers from Heart and Lung diseases.
2. Drink a lot of water (For muslim, fasting month prevents this)
3. Wash your face frequently
4. If you need to be outdoor especially for outdoor workers, you need to wear an appropriate MASK equivalent to 3M 8710 model (Not the one that was distributed free at the moment). Ordinary mask cannot prevent you from inhaling the components of HAZE, it only gives a false sense of security.
In Kuching, it was raining for the past 3 days, although it reduced the API reading but the haze is still there.

No comments: