Haze blamed for ill health

Haze blamed for ill health

17 March 2014

published by www.nst.com.my

Malaysia — Despite the improved air quality over the weekend, Klang Valley folk are still taking precautions such as limiting outdoor activities and wearing masks.

Klang Valley had been hazy for the second weekend in a row.

While some chose to stay indoors, others had no choice but to go out to run errands.

The dry spell and water rationing exercise also weighed down on them.

Izura Abd Shukor, who teaches in a private school, said several students with respiratory problems, believed to have been caused by the haze, had called in sick.

“When the haze had gotten worse on Thursday, a few parents came to school to take their children home. Teachers are getting migraines and sore throats. Our area is also severely affected by water rationing,” she said.

Asthmatic kindergarten teacher Halimatul Hamid said: “We closed the kindergarten today (Friday). Some children had fallen sick and vomited.

“One of them had to be hospitalised. The doctors said it was caused by the haze.”

Her infant son was also hospitalised a few days ago because of recurrent breathing difficulties. She said the government must take urgent steps to end the haze which is becoming seasonal, and also showing signs of occurring more than once a year.

“Firstly, it has to stop open burning. The government should discourage the use of private vehicles, which is also the cause of air pollution,” she said.

Administrative staff at SJKT Jalan Bangsar, R. Kuperan, said the haze had forced the schoolchildren and teachers to limit outdoor activities.

“The best that we can do right now is to drink a lot of water,” he said.

Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) student Cassandra Budin, who takes a short bus ride from her home in Section 7 to the campus in the same neighbourhood, said she was also vexed by the hazy skies.

“My eyes burn and my skin started peeling after five days of commuting in the haze.”

Nur Wahyu Ramli, 19, who commutes from Sunway to Petaling Jaya also complained of dry skin and soreness.

Thoo Teang Beng, 55, said that he had yet to take any precautionary measures against the haze, such as wearing a mask outdoors.

“I am a smoker and my throat is starting to feel dry because of the weather,” said the event company director.

Abdul Alim Salih said since the haze started to envelope the Klang Valley, his family was down with illnesses related to it.

“The weather has kept us all indoors and it is suffocating. I cannot even do gardening, which is my only outdoor exercise,” he said, adding the elderly residents in his close-knit neighbourhood of Taman Cuepacs, Segambut, are all staying indoors.

Karran Chhabra who rides his motorcycle from Rawang to his workplace at Bukit Damansara daily said that he was also glad for the weekend.

“I use a mask but I still feel sick. Many of my friends who have concerts and outdoor events to go to are also too sick to do anything,” he added.

Organisers of the large scale Holi festival at the Shree Lakshmi Narayan Temple on March 23, as well as the Maran walk (from Batu Caves to the Sri Marathandavar Bala Dhandayuthapani Alayam, Hindu temple in Maran, Pahang) are confident that the haze will not reduce the number of participants coming for their events.

Meanwhile, there were still visitors at outdoor parks in the city such as the Perdana Botanical Garden and Taman Tasik Titiwangsa over the weekend, but the number was smaller compared with the number of visitors on clear, sunny days. At Perdana Botanical Garden, there was even an outdoor wedding shoot last Friday.

As of noon yesterday, the Air Pollutant index (API) recorded an improvement in various areas in Klang Valley indicating that the quality of air was between good and moderate. They included Cheras (68), Petaling Jaya (94), Port Klang (96) and Shah Alam (106). However, Banting still “unhealthy” with an API of 152.

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