Haze in Kuala Lumpur [Travel Alert]

For those who are not aware, there exists a special time of the year where Malaysia will be engulfed in smoke and haze resulting from open burning caused by dry weather, farmers seeking a cheap and environmentally unfriendly solution to clear their crops for the next season. 

In the past this haze has become so bad that schools have been closed, public working days has been cut short and international events have been cancelled.

Now despite all these efforts, it seems likely that haze will be back from time to time and  for tourists that are here, you may have to adapt a bit to not waste your valuable time here. 

For now our best solution is to heed all travel and health advice by the authorities and below we have provided some information for you. 

What is it and how do we know how bad it is?

The haze in Malaysia is caused by open burning resulting in the particles being carried into the air. Sometimes it can be so bad that it may result in the smell of a fire being carried together with the haze.

In general the haze may seem bad and the best way to know how bad conditions are, it would be to rely on the measurements taken up by the government through the API ( Air Pollutant Index) readings. 

You can refer to the readings published online to see how the forecasts are that day. 

In general, a reading of 100 and above you ought to start taking precautions so as to avoid any health risks associated with it. 

 

When does it occur?

In general the haze can come and go within days but in the past it has prolonged to months due to the massive open burning and forest fires that has been done.

As such, these fires tend to occur and prolong during the dryer seasons and in general around August to October. 

What are the health risk associated with the haze?

The Ministry of Health Malaysia States that exposure to haze may cause a variety of adverse health effects. The small particles that cause haze are composed of microscopic solids or liquid droplets that are so small that they can get deep into the lungs and cause serious health problems. When inhaled, they can enter the bloodstream and get absorbed by underlying tissue, potentially interacting with other compounds and substances in the body, for example ‘bad’ cholesterol, to produce damaging effects such as inflammation. 

 

How do we cope?

One solution is to stay indoors. However who wants to do that right? Especially on holiday. 

As such, in these instances, you are recommended by the Ministry of Health to reduce exposure to the haze and to wear masks when you are outside and you should buy the masks that filter out particles such as the N95 masks. These are effective enough to filter out the particles to help you get through the day. 

It is suggested that you keep a few of the masks on standby and they can be bought from pharmacies to hardware shops. In the event the haze is worst, likely almost every other shop will carry some form of a mask but at an inflated price. 

We hope these advices are helpful to you. We can’t really do much about the haze but we can stay vigilant and take the necessary precautions when available.