|Haze Information: Frequently Asked Questions|
|What is Haze?|
|Haze is an annual phenomenon in Borneo. The traditional practices of slash and burn agriculture generate smoke, which is carried long distances by prevailing winds. The Haze in Borneo comes largely from extensive wood/peat fires from hot spots in Kalimantan (Borneo, Indonesia) and to a lesser extent Sumatra and Sarawak blown in by the South-Easterly trade winds. In the 1997/1998 Haze episode, conditions were made much worse by local fires in the KB/Seria area.
Haze is made up almost entirely of very small particles (less than 10 microns in diameter) produced by wood/peat fires. At the height of the Haze period of April 1998, an independent study was carried out by the Department of Environment Quality, T.N.O, Institute of Environmental Sciences, The Netherlands. It showed that the 97/98 Haze contained:
|What are the harmful effects of the Haze particles?|
|Healthy normal individuals will only experience irritation of the eyes and throat. People at risk include: the elderly; people with chronic lung/heart disease and asthmatics. Their conditions could be made worse by the Haze. The elderly with lung/heart disease are most at risk.|
|When will the Haze stop?|
|When people stop lighting fires, and when major rains fall in Kalimantan. The North-East trade winds (expected in November) should blow the Haze away from Brunei. However, we may still experience Haze generated locally, if burning in the KB / Seria area persists.|
|What does PSI mean?|
|PSI stands for Pollutant Standards Index. It is an index developed by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA) to provide accurate, timely and easily understandable information about daily levels of air pollution.
The PSI gives an overall estimate of air quality on a given 24 hour day. It is a uniform index based on five pollutants:
|The main pollutant of concern to health during a smoke haze is the fine particulates matter or PM10. The health effect depends on the severity of the smoke haze as described by the PSI reading. At a PSI of 101 and above, the air quality is deemed unhealthy.
See the Haze Index for a guide to PSI values, air quality ratings, general health effects and precautions to take.
|How does Brunei air quality compare with other places?|
|The air quality in Brunei in non-Haze periods is much healthier than many European or Asian cities. It also contains very low toxic levels of benzene, benzopyrenes (polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons), ozone, CO, SO2 , NO2, which usually come from heavy traffic.
Air Quality Standards are based on assumed exposure to the above toxic chemicals. The Borneo Haze is less toxic than that created by traffic / industrial fumes.
In Brunei in non-Haze periods it is 10-20 (mainly because we have less traffic congestion).
|If you smoke, should you worry more about the Haze?|
|Smoking is far worse than the Haze. Smoking 20 cigarettes/day is about the same as an average 24 hour PSI of 24,000 ! This shows how BAD smoking is for our health.|
|Where is Haze being monitored?|
|BSP is presently monitoring Haze on a continuous basis at 3 strategic locations - Head Office, Panaga Hospital and Production Chemistry Lab. We are also taking specific site measurements at KB Wharf and Anduki Airfield. Furthermore, BLNG has continuous Haze monitoring at their site in Lumut.
These data are shared on a daily basis with the Brunei Government Ministry of Industry & Primary Resources - Environment Unit - and Ministry of Health. The remainder of the country is covered by Government Haze monitoring stations in Bandar, Muara, Tutong, Temburong and Kuala Belait.
The sampling programme and techniques used were developed extensively and independently verified during the 1997/98 Haze episode.
|How do the Haze levels vary throughout the day?|
|In 1998 we did extensive monitoring and found that the Haze levels in the KB / Seria area were strongly influenced by humidity and the Land / Sea breezes. It showed that Haze levels were generally worse in the morning.|
|What measures should you take to reduce exposure to Haze?|
| In Your Car:
|A Note for Managers & Contract Holders…..:
|What is BSP doing now?|
|Monitoring Air Quality
|Helicopter fire/smoke monitoring
|Assist Government Fire Fighting
| Air Purifiers
| Particulate/Dust Masks
|Any further questions, please contact:|
|Head Environmental Affairs (HSE/5) - Tel. 3 372846
Senior Occupational Health Advisor (HML/8) - Tel. 3 37375
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