Protect yourself and your loved ones this hazy season.
The haze story
Most of the haze-causing fires that affect Singapore are caused by the open burning of land and smoke haze is carried over to Singapore by changes in wind direction. In addition, the dry season and local vegetation fires can also contribute to the haze.
What are the effects of haze on our health?
The particles in the haze can pose health hazards such as cardiovascular and respiratory illnesses, breathing difficulties and are linked to long-term health conditions such as heart and lung diseases. Long-term exposure to the haze can also lead to conditions such as asthma and bronchitis.
Eyes: Inflammation / conjunctivitis
Nose: Nasal irritation, stimulates mucus production
Throat: Sore or dry throats, clogged respiratory tract
Lungs: Inflammation and scarring of lung tissues
Skin: People with eczema may suffer breakouts
What is the N95 mask?
Haze can contain fine particles that are 2.5 microns or smaller (PM2.5) and high levels of these particles can cause many types of respiratory illnesses. If the mask fits well on the wearer’s face, N95 masks can protect the wearer from airborne particles and are at least 95% efficient against fine particles that are about 0.1 – 0.3 microns. The air breathed in will go through the filter. The wearer should check that the mask he/she is using covers the nose and mouth comfortably without any leak. The mask can be reused, but should be not be shared and should be changed when it gets dirty or distorted.
It is advisable for a healthy person to wear the N95 mask to reduce exposure when he/she has to be outdoors for several hours and the air quality is in the hazardous range. For the elderly, pregnant women and people with severe lung or heart problems, they should consult their doctors whether they should use the N95 mask and should stop using the N95 masks if they have difficulty breathing.
Haze survival guide
- The N95 mask protects the user from at least 95% of smoke particles.
Air purifiers and air-conditioners are effective as they have in-built air filtration mechanisms to filter the air. HEPA purifiers (“Do you know what the PSI readings mean?”) are recommended.
- A wet cloth may filter out most dust particles than a dry cloth. If you do not have a mask at hand, it is still better to cover your nose and mouth.
6-Step guide on wearing N95 mask (Health Promotion Board)
- Wash your hands.
- N95 masks come in different sizes, so make sure mask fits well.
- Place mask firmly over nose, mouth and chin.
- Strap the top band high at the back of your head and the bottom band under your ears.
- Press the thin metal band on the edge of the mask against the bridge of your nose for a good fit.
- Inhale and exhale to check the fit of the mask. Check your air leakage while exhaling.
Tips to fight the haze
- Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated.
- For those with existing medical conditions, ensure medications are readily available.
- Seek medical care as soon as possible if you have difficulty breathing.
- Reduce outdoor physical activities during hazy or smoky conditions, reduce outdoor physical activities. Limit exercise to early mornings or after sunset as sunshine increases ozone levels.
- Install a high-quality air-purifier indoors, if necessary. Alternatively, you can use house plants to improve air quality.
- Wash bedding weekly.
- Avoid tobacco smoking in your home.
- Use a mask if you are going outdoors for prolonged periods.
Health Promotion Board
Ministry of Health