Parts of Visayas and Mindanao are affected by the haze brought about by the intense forest fires in Indonesia. The Department of Health today warned that haze contains particulate matter, dust, smoke particles, and air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, and carbon monoxide that can potentially affect a person’s health. Fine particulate matter, which is less than 2.5 micrometer in size, poses the highest health risk as it can go deep into the lungs and bloodstream.

Short-term exposure to these particles can aggravate existing lung conditions, cause asthma attacks, acute bronchitis, and heart conditions. It can cause cough, nasal congestion, sore throat, conjunctivitis, headache, dizziness, fatigue, skin irritation, eczema, and mild irritation of the eyes, nose and throat. Children, pregnant women, the elderly, and patients with existing lung and heart conditions are most vulnerable. 

“I ask the public to minimize their outdoor activities and refrain from strenuous physical activities once haze is confirmed in their area. If this is unavoidable, use a dust mask such as an N95 mask,” said Health Secretary Dr. Francisco T. Duque III.

 Secretary Duque also reminded the public to exercise caution when driving in low visibility areas and to stay away from low-lying areas where smoke and suspended particles may settle.

 “I advise patients with difficulty of breathing, chest pain and increased tearing of the eyes to consult a doctor or go to the nearest health facility immediately,” the Secretary added. “Our health facilities are ready to address their concerns.”