The impact of haze on our health is diverse as fine particles can bypass our normal immune systems and find their way into the lungs and other tissues via the bloodstream. The particles, in particularly PM2.5 (find particles) released by forest fires) can interact with other important substances in the body, such as LDL (Low Density Lipoproteins) to cause such symptoms as inflammation. The effect of the pollutants entering the lungs includes impaired pulmonary function, which in not limited to adults but also in infants. For example, in 1977 South East Asian haze, a seemingly small increase in air pollutants by 100μg/m3 has led to increases of 12% of upper respiratory tract illness, 19% asthma, and 26% nasal inflammation. In general, the effects can be classified into short-term and long-term effects.
Short-term adverse effects include eye irritation and headache.
Long-term adverse effects include respiratory and cardiovascular diseases. The exposure to fine particles can lead to a faster thickening of the arteries (atherosclerosis), which in effect leads to a high blood pressure. Research conducted by an organisation in the US has found that 10 μg/m3 increase of PM2.5 causes 1% increase in diabetes risk.
However, the extent to which haze impacts individual’s health depends several factors:
- Health status, depending on how sensitive you are.
- Elderly, children, and pregnant women are more vulnerable to experience health issues because they have a low immune system, whereby
- PSI level and duration of exposure to haze
- The amount of influence on health also depends on the severity of the haze. The table below shows the recommended amount of outdoor activity depending on the PSI level.