July 31, 2014

Sibu Tales : Haze and Face Masks

Sibu has for many years (since 1997) been suffering from an annual haze. Some areas after the Bukit Lima Forest Reserve was destroyed by a huge fire suffered terribly for a few days.

Thus ,this  year 2014 has been particularly bad. It has saddened so many citizens, and while some of them are heart broken, the politicians and those involved in the severe burning of jungles,etc remain rather quiet on the issue. The chainsaw and natives who practised some slash and burn method in the past were often the target of condemnation by politicians who probably never visited them. But now with the extended incidences of burning, the blame is on foreign lands which cause all the global warming. If only the Polar Bears and Penguins can talk!! If only the sea lions and seals can protest!!

Various young writers have been writing about their concerns and here is one, plus a comment from one of his learned friends.

Just finished reading a press report advising the public to wear face mask in hazy condition. The paper published a photo showing a box of common face masks in blue/green colours.
This is a misleading info for the public (Johnny Hii)
If the air quality has reached an unpleasant figure of over 100, or the more professional term PM2.5, regardless whatever weather condition(wet/dry) we have, the public need to put on N95 face masks, not those face masks as shown in the photo.
The paper made face masks are called surgical masks, their sole function is to prevent/block the mucus or saliva from the wearers to their surroundings. For the toxic micro-particles in the polluted atmosphere, it is powerless to carry out any filtering effect. Furthermore, those face masks will give a false sense of confidence to the wearer, thinking that one is safe to be exposed to the pollutants by staying outdoor for long hours.

The only functionable face masks in hazy conditions is N95. It has been certified by some American professional bodies to prevent and filter out micro particles in the air.
Nevertheless, it is still not 100% airtight, and since it has to be wore as tight as possible to the face, people with beards may find it difficult to wear it appropriately.

There is no child version of the N95 face mask, so the only way to prevent your children's exposure to the hazy environment is to stay indoors with air filter devices full-blown.

This is a translation of the Chinese article above, by a young man, Johnny Hii.

And a comment from his friend...

Loikk Loi N95 means it is certified by NIOSH to filter 95% of airborne particles. There are many different model of N95 certified face mask, each with different fastening harness and some model comes with relief valve for exhaling. I feel that most of the N95 in the local market do not provide a good seal on the face (this basic design is only good for construction or factory workers in dusty environment). This design renders it useless in haze situation. What we need is N95 respirator or N95 mask with a seal on the face. I used some of these while in Beijing. Unfortunately, these are not readily available.

FYI my dear readers...Let us continue to play our citizens' role of keeping our environment safe from fire, from deterioration, etc,etc.


Anonymous said...

Missed the good ole days (before oil palm plantation) when there were no haze in Sibu!!

Ann, Chen Jie Xue 陈洁雪 said...

My Dad was visiting me in Singapore when the word Haze came to my vocabulary. I was wondering why it didn't happen before.

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