|Title||Health Advisory For Workplaces During Haze|
|Description||Health Advisory For Workplaces During Haze|
Ministry Of Health, Malaysia: Health Advisory For Workplaces During Haze
Haze is a situation where there is pollution to the air by suspended particulate matter. The various determinants of air pollution are, Sulphur Dioxide, Nitrogen Dioxide, Ozone, Carbon Monoxide and PM10. The fine particulate matter or PM10 (particulate of size 10 micron and below) is the main concern as it may lead to adverse health conditions.
Haze is caused when sunlight encounters tiny pollution particles in the air. Some light is absorbed by particles while other light is scattered away before it reaches an observer. The more the pollutants, the more the absorption and scattering of light, which reduces the clarity and color of what we see. Air quality is determined by the Air Pollutant Index which is measured by the Department of Environment, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.
The Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, stipulates that it is the responsibility of the employer to ensure the safety, health and welfare of the employee. The employer is thus responsible to ensure that preventive measures are taken for employees who are performing their tasks during the haze.
Health Effects of Haze
Exposure to haze may cause a variety of adverse health effects. The small particles that cause haze are composed of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. When inhaled, they can enter the bloodstream and get absorbed by underlying tissue, potentially interacting with other compounds and substances in the body, for example ‘bad’ cholesterol, to produce damaging effects such as inflammation.
Short-term adverse effects of exposure to haze:
• Eye irritation, watering eyes, and/or conjunctivitis (a type of eye inflammation)
• Running nose, stuffy nose, sneezing, and/or post-nasal drip
• Throat irritation, dry throat, sore throat and/or coughing, phlegm
• Headache, dizziness, fatigue and/or stress
• Decreased lung function, depressed respiratory immune defenses, chest tightness,
chest pain, shortness of breath, bronchitis (lung inflammation)
These symptoms are usually mild and will subside if exposure to haze is limited by staying indoors. However, in susceptible individuals (e.g. diabetics, elderly) and those suffering from chronic disease, especially respiratory and heart disease (e.g. coronary artery disease, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), their condition may be worsened by haze and are more likely to experience more severe haze-related effects than healthy people.
Long-term effects of exposure to haze
A large number of particles in a haze are below 2.5 micrometers in diameter. Therefore these ultra small particles stay in the air longer and are easily carried over long distances, increasing their chances of being inhaled by animals and humans.
The long-term risks associated with exposure to fine particles:
• Faster rate of thickening of the arteries compared to others, promoting the
development of vascular diseases.
• Increases the risk of death by cardiovascular disease and reduces life expectancy by
several months to a few years
• May contribute to the development of diabetes
• Spontaneous abortion, under-weight infants, birth defects and infant death.
General Measures at the Workplace
Ensure there is sufficient supply of respirators for employees who have to work outdoors
General Measures for the Workers
A respirator is a protective device worn covering the nose and mouth and is used to reduce the wearer’s risk of inhaling hazardous airborne particles. The respirator filters small airborne particle which cause haze. The N95 respirator may be used to prevent exposure to the haze. (Refer Usage of Personal Protection During Haze at www.moh.gov.my)
Guidelines on Action to be Taken at The Workplace