CAGAYAN DE ORO CITY, October 22 – Haze due to forest can cause air pollution which can bring about increased risks for respiratory tract infections and cardiac ailments.
According to the Department of Health (DOH), haze contains dust, smoke particles and air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter.
Haze is a slight obscuration of the lower atmosphere, typically caused by fine suspended particles.
It is a result of an aggregation in the atmosphere of very fine, widely dispersed, solid or liquid particles or both in relatively dry air, giving the air an opalescent appearance.
Increased in the levels of particulate matter is generally expected during forest fires.
As a result of the small particulate size, these particles can go deep into the lungs and in some cases, enter the bloodstream. Particularly, matter whose diameter is less than 2.5 micrometer (PM2.5) can penetrate right into the small air sacs in our lungs when inhaled, thereby posing the highest health risk.
Short term exposure to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short term exposure can be linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias.
The health effects can be further classified into local and systemic effects.
Local effects can result in eye, nose and throat irritation.
People with history of sinus problems or sensitive nose are more likely to develop nasal congestion, sore throat and coughing.
There may be increased incidents of skin irritation as well for eczema or other skin conditions.
Systemic effects such as asthma attacks, bronchitis or worsening of heart diseases are more serious effects of air pollution. Also, there have been suggestions that long term exposure to air pollution may rise to increase risk of cancer.
Per state weather bureau, PAGASA (Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration), during the 6thRegular Meeting of the Regional Disaster Risk Reduction and Management Council (RDRRMC)-X Technical Working Group,Mindanao is experiencing since October 18 a haze caused by the smog of Indonesia’s wildfire which also continues to affect Singapore, Thailand, and Malaysia.
The southwesterly winds drove the smog toward Mindanao where the haze became visible in most parts of the island, particularly in the north and northeastern.
Meanwhile, DOH advises the public what to do during haze.
For elderly, children and those with respiratory–asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and cardiovascular diseases, stay indoors with good ventilation; wear appropriate dust masks when going outside the house; refrain from physical activities (exercise, etc) in heavily polluted areas.
Motorists, on the other hand, should exercise extreme caution whenever on the road to prevent accidents by using headlights/foglights; follow the required minimum speed level and extreme caution in low, visibility driving; and ensure that vehicle is in good running condition.
Further, stay away from low-lying areas where smoke and suspended particles may settle.
It is important to consult a doctor if there is difficulty in breathing, cough, chest pain, increased tearing of the eyes, and nose or throat irritation. (EORatunil/PIA10)