Wear N95 mask to protect from haze, pharmacists’ society chief advises public

The current haze situation and poor air quality warrant the public to protect themselves by donning face masks, especially if they are outdoors.

Exposure to the haze can lead to coughs, asthma, eye irritation, and lung infections. It can also lead to feelings of tiredness and weakness.

Malaysian Pharmacists Society president, Amrahi Buang, said N95 respirator masks offered better protection against smog, compared to surgical masks.

“The respirator mask is better, as it filters fine particles (tiny particles which are 2.5 microns or less in width) present in haze,” said Amrahi.

“Surgical masks do not offer the same kind of protection, but if people do wear them, it’s better to wear double masks.

“Double masking is what many practiced at the height of Covid-19, where people used a surgical mask as the first layer, and covered it with a cloth mask.”

While surgical masks are not as effective as N95 masks, experts say they can reduce complications caused by haze, as they provide a barrier between the nose and mouth, and the larger irritant particles in the air.

Department of Environment director-general, Datuk Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaafar, in an Oct 2 statement, said several measures would be taken under the National Haze Action Plan, following the deteriorating air quality in Malaysia.

As of 4pm, several locations in the country recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings. They included Bukit Rambai in Melaka (154), Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan (137), and Batu Pahat in Johor (113).

API readings that range between 100 and 200 are considered unhealthy, as the air could “worsen the health conditions of high-risk people, especially those with heart and lung complications.”

Open burning in Indonesia is often blamed for the smog that envelops Malaysia and Singapore.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre in Singapore, there were 16 hotspots recorded in Sumatra, and 193 in Kalimantan.

Malaysia has written to Indonesia to address the transboundary haze issue and is still awaiting a reply from the republic.

Separately, Amrahi said the demand for face masks and hand sanitisers had dwindled, as Covid-19 passed the pandemic stage in Malaysia.

“Washing our hands regularly and using hand sanitisers are important. It should be the normal practice, and we should continue it as it is good for our hygiene. Hand sanitisers are very convenient, not just for Covid-19,” he said.

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