The unsung wrath of haze has once again struck Malaysia. Although the weather has improved significantly and the clouds seem to be clearing up, just days ago, the country had witnessed another relentless episode of the notorious haze.
As the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading continues to decline, the air quality throughout the country continues to improve. Just last week, schools were closed due to API reading exceeding 200, which is categorized as ‘very unhealthy’, while Sarawak suffered a reading of over 300, being the first area in Malaysia to enter the ‘hazardous’ classification ever since the rise of smog this month.
Data acquired by the Department of Environment revealed last week a total of four spots across the nation reported “very unhealthy” levels including Seri Manjung (227), Kuching (214), Nilai in Negeri Sembilan (206), and Johan Setia (230), while almost 31 regions in the country have “unhealthy” API levels of between 105 and 193.
After long excruciating years, Malaysia still bears witness to the repercussions of forest fires from neighbouring countries until today. How does haze or air pollution affect us? As haze contains tiny particles of dust, smoke and air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter, when inhaled, it enters the bloodstream and travels straight into our lung air sacs. These exposures are hazardous to our health especially to those who suffer from asthma, bronchitis or other types of lung disease.
Not only is haze dangerous to our health but it is also dangerous to our FINANCES. While many may ask “What can a bit of haze do to our wallets?”. We may not realize but haze could also mean an increase in expenditures.
So what can you do to spend less during this mess?
Invest in facemasks.
The first thing we Malaysians do as soon as we see the first signs of haze, is to run to the nearest stores and search for facemasks. This has resulted in a massive increase in facemask sales. The first thing to know before spending on facemasks is that there are many types of facemasks out there with different levels of effectiveness. The most common one is the surgical mask, which is also the cheapest.
Although it’s more common to see fellow Malaysians wearing this mask, it is however the least effective compared to other masks as it is unable to filter out tiny particles of bacteria and is only able to protect the nose and mouth from irritants in the air. This means that even while wearing this mask, these small particles are inhaled into the lungs.
When we talk about saving money, the solution would always be, to go for cheaper things, but in this case, save more money by investing in a slightly pricier mask, such as the N95. Now you’ll ask “How do we save money by spending more?”.
The answer is you wouldn’t have to worry about extra costs of medical bills by choosing a better mask. The N95 is able to filter out at least 95% of fine particles which makes it the most effective mask to use against the haze. When you opt for a better mask, the chances of you falling sick due to the haze is less, which means no additional expenditures on medications and costly hospital visits.
Flick the switch off.
“How can haze affect our electricity bills?”. We may not notice but as the haze keeps us locked up at home, this means we would most probably be spending most of our time lazing around on the couch watching TV and browsing for movies for hours on end to entertain ourselves. As a result, air conditioners, fans, lights and electronic devices are left on for longer periods of time.
The most common thing to do in this situation is to save electricity. Switch off the TV as soon as you finish watching that movie. Turn off the lights as soon as you leave the kitchen. Switch off the air conditioner as soon as you leave the room and opt using the fan instead as it costs a lot less.
These steps may seem simple but it could save you a whole lot of money during these hard, hazy times.
Don’t spend on supplements.
During this season, it is detrimental to our health that we do everything we can to avoid it. Easier said than done, how do we avoid the haze? While there is no way to avoid air pollution (unless you snap up a plane ticket and fly off to another country across the globe), there are smaller steps we can take to minimize its effects, such as eating healthier food to boost our immune system.
Most may rely on supplements to do this but the truth is that supplements are always on the pricier side. Rather than spending a bunch of money on expensive vitamins, opt for easier and cheaper solutions which can be found in nutrient-rich food such as fruits and vegetables which are rich in vitamins such as cauliflower, kale, papaya, sweet potato, tomatoes and so on.
Citrus fruits are natural boosters for the immune system as the Vitamin C helps increase the production of white blood cells, which helps protect the body against infections. Staying hydrated is also a good way to save money and to keep your health in check during the season.
Haze is not a pleasant episode, especially here in Southeast Asia. Countries could lose millions of ringgit in potential income from the decline in the number of tourists visiting the country and employees falling sick due to haze. As the skies are slowly clearing up and we are able to enjoy our days in the sun once again, keep in mind that during this season, it is crucial to spend wisely and take safety precautions in order to avoid future mishaps.
Always remember – Your health affects your finances.