Haze adverse health effects worry Brunei

Haze adverse health effects worry Brunei

2 November 2006

published by www.bruneitimes.com.bn

Brunei Darussalam — The haze is still clouding Brunei’s atmosphere as Typhoon Cimaron continues to induce fairly strong southwesterly winds, bringing smoke particles from fires in Kalimantan to the sultanate. Previously over west Philippines, the typhoon is currently located to the southeast of Hong Kong, and expected to make land fall in the next few days.

Once the typhoon hits land, it is expected to dissipate, and the current low level southwesterly winds would gradually return to the northeast direction. At the moment, however, the smoke haze is still pervading the country, and residents of Brunei are expressing dismay over its presence.

Schoolteacher Maslina was worried about the health effects of the recurrence of the haze. “I had been celebrating the clear skies we recently enjoyed, but now it’s gone,” she said. “We just had our windows opened fairly regularly recently, now we have to close them again. I just recently recovered from an illness, and I’m afraid the haze might trigger another attack.”

The latest haze map provided by the National Environment Agency of Singapore showed almost the entire Borneo island cloaked by moderate smoke from Kalimantan. The Indonesian province itself was covered by thick smoke.

The pollution standard index (PSI) reading for yesterday remained in the healthy range at PSI 32, as reported by the Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation. In terms of visibility, the condition worsened since Monday, with a weather station representative reporting a drop in the

visibility from previous readings of more than 10 km to as low as 3 km yesterday.

The duty forecaster at the Brunei Meteorological Service said that the reccurrence of the haze can be attributed to a large part in the still continuing fires in the Kalimantan and Sumatra provinces of Indonesia.

“Although Kalimantan is receiving rain, it is insufficient to completely dispel the smoke,” the weather official said, and pointed out that a respite from the smoke haze may only come during the rainy season later in November.

Sharon Tan, 22, finds the return of the haze worrying. “What if the haze continues every year, what will happen to our environment?” she said. She applauded the environmental authorities’ stance to increase the pressure on the Indonesian parliament to ratify the Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.

Muhammad bin Abas chose to look at the bright side and pointed out the haze in Brunei is not as bad as those in Malaysia or Indonesia.

He suggested that open burning and other activities contributing to the haze be banned, and such restrictions to be strictly enforced.

He also commended the haze updates through various media.

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