Taking no chances with the haze


Hazy view: The view of Komtar in George Town is barely visible from Butterworth near Penang Sentral. The air quality index recorded unhealthy levels in some areas in Penang. — ZHAFARAN NASIB/The Star

Reports by IVAN LOH, MAHADHIR MONIHULDIN, CHARLES RAMENDRAN and REMAR NORDIN

PETALING JAYA: Limiting outdoor activities and masking up are among measures being taken by parents here to limit their children’s exposure to the haze.

Myra Latifa Abdul Rahman said she needs to be cautious because her 10-year-old son is allergic to dust.

“I try to limit my son’s outdoor activities as best as I can. Whenever he goes to school or tuition, I make sure he wears a N95 mask that protects him from harmful air particles,” said the 35-year-old marketing executive.

She has a lot of plants in her house, which act as natural air purifiers to keep the air clean.

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“I also make sure that my son stays hydrated by drinking lots of water,” said Myra Latifa.

Melina Idris, who is mother to a one-year-old, said she decided to stay home on Saturday after noticing the slightly hazy morning.

The 33-year-old wanted to keep her daughter indoors, where there are air-conditioners that filter the air.

Adam Mikael Muzhafar, a father of twins, wants the government to issue early warnings about the haze so that parents can prepare for it.

“I hope steps can also be taken to prevent neighbouring countries from spreading polluted air as it poses a health threat to all of us,” said the 34-year-old doctor, adding that having an indoor air purifier was useful as it could filter out harmful particles.

“It helps whenever the haze comes around.”

Public health expert Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said that vulnerable groups such as children and the elderly should stay indoors during the haze.

Motorcyclists and outdoor workers should wear face masks, he added.

He also said the public should avoid open burning, besides staying updated with government announcements on the situation.

“Drink lots of water. See a doctor if you experience breathing difficulties,” he said.

Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia professor of public health Prof Dr Sharifa Ezat Wan Puteh warned against taking the haze lightly as 94% of it consists of harmful air particles as small as 2.5 micrometres, which can easily enter the lungs and bloodstream.

“I would advise people to close their doors and windows and clean the house to get rid of dust,” she said.

She also recommended having indoor plants to help filter the air.

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