Photo: Malay Mail
Start wearing masks while outdoors, as the haze is now affecting more areas.
If you're just about to purchase some, hurry because stocks for surgical masks have reportedly sold out in a number of stores. There is, however, no need to worry about traders hiking up the prices of face masks as authorities warned that they will take action against any form of profiteering.
To help you pick the best type of masks, we spoke to a respiratory consultant at HKL. Dr. Noorul Afidza Muhammad told us that surgical masks are not completely effective. Instead, go for N95 respirators as they are designed to give proper protection.
Photo: Clean Malaysia
She also told us that continuous exposure to haze can be a major health risk. It is significantly associated with increases of almost up to 15% of upper respiratory tract illnesses, 20% of asthma and 25% of nasal inflammation. However, she says all this depends on how sensitive an individual is, the severity of the haze and the duration of exposure.
The haze has also caused a rise in the number of patients at hospitals. Dr Noorul Afidza noted that many asthmatic patients complained of severe discomfort and mentioned that they had to increase the dosage of their medications and frequency of using their inhalers. She also reminded people to drink plenty of water and eat lots of fresh fruits and vegetables to keep hydrated, and help the body flush out toxins.
To prevent the situation from getting worse, authorities have issued a nationwide ban on all forms of open burning. Exceptions will be made for cremations, religious rituals and barbeques or grills. This ban will last throughout the current monsoon season, which will go on until the end of the month. Those who violate the ban can be fined up to RM500,000 and sentenced to a jail term of no more than 5 years.
Written by Roshini Ravindran, who has already stocked up on surgical masks.