The MOH Haze Health Advisory poster and conservative advise for coastal cleanup Organisers

Here is the MOH Haze Health Advisory poster which summarises their guidelines. Various other ministries and institutions adopt these, as does NUS, and might provide specifics or precise advise relevant to their situation.

The fundamentals are all here.

But do read the language carefully. For example, in conditions greater than 100psi, the recommendation for healthy people is to “reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion”. To me, the word prolonged is enough to rule out the typical coastal cleanup activity which lasts at least three hours from departure to site. Strenuous covers any mangrove cleanup.

Furthermore, the MOH guidelines comes with this caveat: “While the health advisory provides general precautionary advice, each individual’s reaction to pollutants may vary. The amount of physical activity or exertion that can be performed also differs according to an individual’s health status or capacity. ”

Yes individual response varies, and this is a critical to realise.

Allergic rhinitis is known to be common enough amongst children in Singapore and may persist amongst undergraduates. Keeping them out of the haze even in low psi values (50-100) seem like common sense. Teachers in schools are prepared and in really bad conditions, some have plans to hem students into air-conditioned halls and somehow continue with school! Amazing!

Many stressed adults also suffer from allergic rhinitis, and have a tough time of it when haze values are persistently maintained at 50-100 psi for days.

As coordinator of the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore, I mulled over this at the first sign of the haze three weeks ago. Read, consulted, observed and decided to adopt a conservative approach when I emailed some 70 Organisers of varying capability and site difficulty who organise some 3,700 volunteers.

Our practise all these 24 years of the ICCS has been to rank safety above all else,so the ICCS Haze Advisory for Organisers was entitled, “At air quality readings above 100psi, please consider cancelling your event!” And if we were dealing with levels below 100psi, despite the MOH recommendation to continue with normal activities, volunteers already experiencing discomfort, however mild, should be advised to rest instead.

I informed the international coordinator at Ocean Conservancy to say Singapore might not be sending them a bundle of data this year due to the haze. We did not experience a haze-out in 1997 or any other year, but we did experience a wash-out in 1998 – Organisers then sensibly cleared the beach due to a massive storm and we cheered them when they wrote to explain.

Similarly, this was a no brainer.

Now all we can do is hope for clear skies like the rest of Singapore. And perhaps a little more: this local campaign hopes to rectify the problem of the haze at the source, through consumer action, a very powerful tool indeed: webreathewhatwebuy.com – take a look and play a part.

Stay healthy everyone!

No sign of Bukit Timah hill, all swallowed
by the rain-enhanced haze of Mon 14 Sep 2015: ~1800h

Bukit TImah in rain enhanced haze
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