Since the smoky mysterious haze will be all we are talking about for the next few weeks (hopefully not months) let’s find out more about it
What is the HAZE we talk about every year?
“The Southeast Asian Haze is a fire-related large-scale air pollution problem that occurs regularly. These haze events have caused adverse health and economic impact on Brunei Darussalam, Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, and to a lesser degree, the Philippines and Thailand. The problem flares up every dry season, in varying degrees. Transboundary haze in Southeast Asia has been recorded since 1972.
The haze is largely caused by illegal agricultural fires due to industrial-scale slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia, especially from the provinces of South Sumatra and Riau in Indonesia’s Sumatra island, and Kalimantan on Indonesian Borneo. Burned land can be sold at a higher price illegally, and eventually used for activities including oil palm and pulpwood production. Burning is also cheaper and faster compared to cutting and clearing using excavators or other machines.
The health effects of haze are mainly caused by the irritant effects of fine dust particles on the nose, throat, airways, skin and eyes. The health effects of haze will depend on its severity as measured by the Pollutants Standards Index (PSI). There is also individual variation regarding the ability to tolerate air pollution. Most people would at most experience sneezing, running nose, eye irritation, dry throat and dry cough from the pollutants. They are mild and pose no danger to the health of the general population.
However, persons with medical problems like asthma, chronic lung disease, chronic sinusitis and allergic skin conditions are likely to be more affected by the haze and they may experience more severe symptoms. Children and the elderly in general are more likely to be affected. For some, symptoms may worsen with physical activities.“
What can we do about it?
Wikipedia mentioned the health impacts of haze on people. Not to mention the impact on environment, the animals that live in the forests (orang utans for example) and the humans living within the burnings who suffered the direct devastating damage. SEA countries affected by the haze yearly have been putting pressure on Indonesia to work on a solution, including Singapore and Malaysia. The economical, social, environmental and medical impact of the haze on these countries and their people have been enormous.
What about the general public?
There are public lobbying of not supporting food that use Palm oil (one of the biggest production that come out of these illegal lan.-burning activities), or buy from manufacturers who use only sustainable palm oil Check the ingredients on the product before you check them out at the supermarket. You will be surprised how many things contain Palm oil – from oil to chips to soap…!!
You can spread the word, inform the others (like Aunties and Uncles who may not be so updated) of the ongoings and what they can do to not support the burning and to protect themselves.
- Why are the illegal burning happening?
- What food or items contain such products that come out of these burning?
- What can we do to protect ourselves from the haze?
Remember we are smart and informed consumers!