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Thursday, June 20, 2013

Haze Pollution Counter Measures

Last night, the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) breached 400 at some point in the night. A PSI above 100 is considered unhealthy. A PSI above 300 is deemed Hazardous. A PSI above 400 is deemed Very Hazardous. As a Mother, I cannot NOT act to protect mine and my own. I was grateful that a few years back I bought up Guardian Pharmacy's left over stock of face masks in that year's Post-Haze period. 

I didn't think the Indonesian authorities would or could do anything about the Slash and Burn in their forests. I expected the haze to come back given the right weather conditions... wind directions etc... Even as I write, Indonesian farmers are setting huge forest fires to clear the land for plantations. They're trying to make money you see, and they don't care 2 hoots that in Singapore and Malaysia, we are slowly dying of smoke inhalation. More about that another day.

Mine are not N95 masks, but they work beautifully with a baby wipe folded into 2 as an extra layer between my nose and the face mask. The baby wipe can be changed and the mask can be used for a few days. I dug out my stash of face masks to everyone's surprise. I gave out masks to Mom-in-law, Dad-in-law, The Daughter, Little Boy and The Husband. If you can't buy N95 masks, these are better than nothing.

That's why God made Mothers. We're the ones that magic up masks when all the stores have run out. Little Boy and The Husband think they're smelling baby poop all day (because baby wipes remind both of baby poop). That's just too bad. They'll just have to get used to the smell of baby poop.

A kind... though gratuitously rude reader... has posted concerns about inhaling the substance on the baby wipes. See comments below. Make sure your baby wipe is alcohol free... and yes... don't keep that mask on all day. You could also rinse the baby wipes in clear water first. Or use a folded wet towel. We use the baby wipes only when we have to be out and about. Probably an hour or so. At home, we don't use masks. The Air Steriliser works quite well.

Folded baby wipe and a simple face mask.

Alcohol free baby wipes. I rinse these in clear water and discard after use. If you're using wet towels then make sure you microwave the towels after every use to prevent mould.

Go HERE to learn how to make a good air filter using a fleece vacuum bag.

I've also got also on standby a large pot of ginseng-chrysanthemum-honey tea to soothe parched throats irritated by particulate matter in the air. I can tell you that there is a lot of particulate matter in the air. I only need to see how the dust settles onto my dark wood shelves to know how much junk is floating in the air. We can all feel it in our throats too. The Husband will be given his own personal 500ml thermos to bring to work tomorrow.

American ginseng

Chrysanthemum flowers


I was first in the queue at the warehouse office of a company that sells air purifiers. Thank you Mommy P for this lobang (Singaporean lingo for "tip-off"). The only stocks they had left were of their high end and most expensive model. I couldn't understand that people were asking about the functionalities of the lower end models at lower prices (which were out of stock). They stood around CONSIDERING if they should wait for new stocks to arrive. For me, it was a no brainer. This was the only model left. It was their most expensive. It was their best. The only reason why they still had stocks was because the price was so high people preferred to buy the cheaper models.

Petunia is a famously stingy person. I once fixed The Husband with a baleful stare when he wanted to buy this huge car that I thought completely impractical. I am QUITE happy to drive a beat up car. And I drive my beat up car with pride. I mostly go around in cheap t-shirts, baggy shorts + slippers. No branded shoes nor handbags for me. It was quite funny to see people carrying their branded bags actually CONSIDERING waiting around for a lower end model.

Hey... this is air I breathe. It's a matter of life and death. I'll stinge on everything else but not this. I've 2 octogenarians at home who may sometimes irritate me (a lot) but I still do like having them around. If this smoke haze continues at PSI 400, we may lose them both. The Husband won't be able to work properly if he can't breathe properly. And I've invested close to 20 years in my children so I'm not risking them either.

I didn't even look at the other models. "What? This is the only model left? No problem! Quickly! Take my money and gimme 'em!" I was out of there in 10 minutes. By 2 pm in the afternoon, the warehouse had no more stocks of the machine. I know because I went back there at 2.30pm to buy another 2 just to be very kiasu.

No. More. Stock.

Novita Air Steriliser

When I got home, I learnt a little more about the machine. It has a coverage of 1200 sq feet. Our bedrooms are between 400 sq ft to 800 sq ft. One machine is sufficient to clean even the largest rooms. One mode of operation removes air particles. Another mode uses ozone to kill germs and mold. The 3rd mode is to be used when humans are not IN the room, to sterilize all surfaces in the room. I'm not too comfortable about the ozone thingy thingy. I reckon that whatever kills other organic beings (fungus and germs) could also harm my lungs. I'll just use this for the air particle remover thingy. Go easy on the ozone thing if you're using one of these.

If I figure out more anti-haze measures, I'll blog again.

Post Script: 
If you can't buy an air purifier, try using a Bagless Vacuum like the Dyson to suck particulate matter out of the air. It really is the particulate matter you need to remove from the air you breathe. This is what damages lungs and airways. Don't use the vacuum cleaners with bags. The 2.5 microns small particulate matter goes in one end and comes right out the other end of the dust bag.

Post Post Script:
Go HERE for more Haze Pollution Counter Measures.
Go HERE for reviews of 2 high quality face masks, of which one fits children.


Rikki V. Birkin said...

As babywipes contain isopropyl alcohol, advising people to inhale them for upto 3hrs is a ridiculous idea.

Please act more responsibly and think about things before posting such ludicrous notions.

Open Kitchen Concept said...

Oh Petunia.. I tried looking for air purifiers today and was told all out of stock! Cheap or expensive.


Petunia Lee said...

Rikki - Thank you for your note of caution.

Petunia Lee said...

OKC - Oh dear!! I wanted to go back and buy 2 more in case friends needed it. There was no more stock. I could have let you have one if I had succeeded at buying.

Blur Ting said...

i couldn't sleep all night because I could smell the smoke. :(

Petunia Lee said...

Oh dear Ting Ting! Do you have a hepa enabled or a bagless vacuum cleaner? I think those help remove particulate matter. I'm less worried about the smell than I am about the particulate matter.

Melodies said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Melodies said...

A surgical mask is a loose-fitting while N95 is a tight-fitting mask, hence haze still can seep through if wearing surgical mask.

Instead of wipe, you may want to use handkerchiefs/ small towels sprayed with water. Make sure if you can cover your nose and mouth tightly with the modified version of "mask"

Delphin or rainbow vacuum can act as air cleaner too...

Petunia Lee said...

Melodies - Thank you so much for adding your 2 cents worth!!