Singapore may not have seasons such as spring, summer, autumn, or winter, but people here joke that we now have our own four seasons of wet, hot, haze, and flood. While the flood happens only in certain island’s regions, the haze is everywhere and is no escape from it when it hits. The haze occurs usually during the period between May and October and it is caused by winds bringing in smoke from Sumatra’s forest fires. Recently Singapore experienced its heaviest haze conditions since the year 2006.
South-East Asia region is concerned about this situation and the authorities are working with their Indonesian counterparts to find ways of combating this haze problem. However, for the time being haze remains an annual event in Singapore.
During the haze, the air we breathe may contain dirt, carbon monoxide, particulate matter, and other pollutants that can negatively affect our health. Haze’s main potential danger is respiratory illness but it can also affect skin and eyes. Many babies, young children and elderly are affected by haze and develop breathing problems and asthmatics are the category at the highest risk.
Adult people breathe daily an average of between 15,000 and 20,000 litres of air. Most air contains a limited quantity of pollutants, indoor as well as outdoor. Pollution is linked usually to man-made sources, such as vehicle emissions and industrial pollution. Smoke haze coming from forest fires can also bring air pollution, like we experience in Singapore. Biomass combustions create particulate matter, methane, carbon dioxide and carbon monoxide. Smoke can also contain sulfur, nitrogen, and other harmful chemicals, depending on the type of plants being burned.
， When Is The Haze Dangerous For Health?
The National Environment Agency in Singapore use a system called the Pollutant Standard Index to measure air pollution levels. A value of PSI in the range between 0 and 50 is considered good. A PSI value between 101 and 200 is considered unhealthy, while values above 300 are considered hazardous. When the air quality in Singapore is at unhealthy levels, it can trigger coughing or sneezing, eye irritation, and aggravation of respiratory illness symptoms, especially for people suffering from chronic heart or lung ailments. Hazardous levels of air quality can trigger early onset of certain disease and can be even life threatening to elderly and ill persons.
Is It Safe To Jog If There Is Haze?
The health advisory by the National Environment Agency advises the public to reduce exercising and outdoor activities if there is haze. However, the answer to the question if is it safe to jog when there is haze, depends on the PSI value. The higher the value is, the more severe is the pollution in the air and the more risks for our health it poses. Generally, for PSI values below 100, for healthy people it is safe to jog and carry on other normal activities outside as usual. If you are suffering from heart or respiratory diseases, it is recommended to refrain from outdoor activities, including running and jogging, in order to minimise your exposure to pollutants in the air. We tend to breathe harder, deeper and at a faster rate than normal when we exercise and that increases our air intake. We will inevitable breathe in more harmful particles from the air into our lungs during a haze. For those who suffer from a heart or respiratory condition these pollutants can trigger a heart or asthma attack.
If the PSI value is above 100 there are increased risks of coughing, sneezing, and getting eye irritation. Beyond this level it is recommended that even those who are not suffering from any pre-existing illnesses should minimise their outdoor activities as much as possible, in order to limit their contact with air pollutants.
Even if running is usually a healthy activity, going for a jog during the haze may cause long-term damage to your body. It is also recommended to close all windows and doors at home and in the office, and turn on the air conditioner or the air purifier.
Other measures you can take in order to protect yourself from the negative health effects of haze are:
– Breathe only through your nose to reduce the amount of inhaled air pollutants.
– Avoid jogging or other outdoor exercises even in mild haze conditions if you are asthmatic.
Do not exercise in rush hours to avoid additional pollutants from vehicle exhaust gases. Quit cigarette smoking and avoid second hand smoke. The most dangerous combination to avoid combinations is a mix of humidity, high temperature, and air pollution. Minimise the amount of time spent in haze conditions and high pollution areas as the risks and the side effects are dependent on the dose.