Singapore Smog and Your Health
Read on below to find out more about the health risks of smog in Singapore.
Singapore's Smog Situation
The wholesale destruction of vast areas of Indonesia’s rainforests, both for commercial logging purposes and as a part of slash-and-burn agriculture, has had devastating effects on the country’s natural ecology. The deforestation and associated fires have resulted in huge losses of habitat for native animals, severe pollution of streams, rivers, and lakes, and, of course, massive amounts of air pollution. Some estimates reach well beyond 300 million metric tons of carbon dioxide being released into the atmosphere annually in Indonesia. This figure does not even include other, even more toxic gases such as carbon monoxide and sulfur dioxide, both of which are produced by forest fires and can remain in the air for years.
Since air pollution doesn’t need a passport to travel, Indonesia’s massive smog problem has been pouring into neighboring Singapore and Malaysia, and even as far as the Philippines and southern Thailand. As a result, Singapore in particular has experienced some the haziest days in its history recently, with a record-setting PSI count of 401 recorded on June 16th, 2013, nearing the top of the 500-point index, and putting everyone’s lungs to the test.
Air Pollution is Everyone's Problem
While the greyish haze that frequently settles over Singapore is unsightly to say the least, the bigger problem is the serious health risks that long-term exposure poses to residents. Pollutants like carbon monoxide can kill in a matter of minutes in high concentration, and even in lower doses pose serious dangers. Likewise, ozone, another prominent greenhouse gas released during the burning of organic material, causes serious and long-lasting damage.
All of the harmful compounds that are polluting the city's air should be of chief concern to Singaporeans. Even short term exposure to moderately polluted air can cause breathing problems, eye, skin, and respiratory system irritation, and easily provokes asthma attacks within sensitive groups.
Even the most seasoned of Singapore’s residents don’t stand a chance when the air pollution is at its worst. Severely polluted air causes shortness of breath, asthma, respiratory irritation and infections, and can even do permanent damage to lung tissue, causing dead lung cells to scar, which reduces their ability to absorb oxygen even during normal breathing.
What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?
On the most polluted days, the best advice is to stay indoors and wait for the air to clear. However,since most people don't have the choice to stay inside on every smoggy day, a certain level of exposure is unavoidable. Thankfully, to a limited extent at least, the health risk can be somewhat mitigated. When it comes to cleaning the air, HEPA face masks and HEPA air-purifiers can help, but the key is to use products that carry a particle filtration rating of PM2.5 or smaller, since the smallest pollutants are actually the most harmful.
Given that the smoke and smog that has blanketed Singapore previously has had so much potential for harm, it should come as no surprise that illnesses requiring hospitalization are not uncommon, and that some affected persons have reported problems that last far beyond just the initial exposure to extreme air pollution, with symptoms persisting even after the air quality has returned to “normal”.
While Pacific Prime cannot control the weather patterns to eliminate Singapore’s air pollution woes entirely, we do offer excellent health insurance coverage to help you cope with the ill effects that it can bring about. Going far beyond just covering doctor visits to cover extreme conditions, such as an asthma attack, Pacific Prime has benefits that include coverage for virtually any air pollution related-illness or condition, whether it requires diagnostic testing, out-patient care, hospitalization, or even long-term therapy; all as part of our comprehensive medical insurance protection plans.
Additionally, while some insurers will exclude air pollution-related care as part of their coverage, deeming it an “pre-existing condition” due to the prevalence of particulate matter in Singapore’s air, Pacific Prime realizes that this is a legitimate concern and that our customers deserve to know they will be cared for. Thus, we offer plans that provide coverage for pre-existing conditions.
Finally, even if your family or company already has a health insurance coverage plan in place, Pacific Prime offers stand-alone and top-up plans that provide specific coverage for smog-related illnesses and conditions. If you have any questions about your current insurance policy’s ability to cover your health needs, or want to know more about anything mentioned above and how Pacific Prime can help keep you safe and healthy in Singapore, talk to an Insurance Expert today.