Side Effects

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Side Effects

Haze contains dust and smoke particles. It also contains air pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter. Due to the small particulate size, the particles that make up haze can go deep into the lungs, and in some cases, enter the bloodstream. The highest health risk is posed by the so called PM2.5 particulate matters that can penetrate right into the small air sacs in our lungs when inhaled. Short-term exposures to particles (hours or days) can aggravate lung disease, causing asthma attacks and acute bronchitis, and may also increase susceptibility to respiratory infections. In people with heart disease, short-term exposures can be linked to heart attacks and arrhythmias. Long-term exposures have been associated with problems such as reduced lung function and the development of chronic bronchitis and even premature death. The health effects can be further classified into local and systemic effects. Local effects can result in eye, nose, and throat irritation. People with history of sinus problems or sensitive nose are more likely to develop nasal congestion, sore throat and coughing. There may be increase incidents of skin irritations as well for those with eczema or other skin conditions. Systemic effects are more serious. These can range from respiratory conditions such asthma attacks and bronchitis to worsening of heart diseases such as heart attacks or heart failure. There have also been suggestions that long term exposure to air pollution may give rise to increase risk of cancer.

The health effects are more prominent in high risk groups. The following groups of people should minimise outdoor activities when the air quality is bad.

  • Children as they are more vulnerable due to faster breathing rates and the fact that their lungs are still developing.
  • Elderly as they are more prone to adverse health conditions because of past medical conditions.
  • Patients with past medical problems such as o Any respiratory conditions especially those with asthma, chronic obstructive lung diseases.

o Any heart diseases especially those with coronary artery disease, congestive heart failure.

o Any history of ear, nose and throat problems such as allergic nasal conditions or problem with sinusitis.

o Chronic diseases such as diabetes as patients with diabetes are more prone to cardiac conditions.