KIDAPAWAN CITY: The Department of Health (DOH) in Region 12 has advised the public to stay indoors even if the haze that has been spreading in Mindanao is still at a tolerable level.
DOH Assistant Regional Director Francisco Mateo said they are coordinating with the Environmental Management Bureau of the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) in monitoring the haze.
The haze has reached Zam-boanga Peninsula and visibility is poor in the mountainous part of the western Mindanao region.
Mateo advised the public to stay indoors that have good ventilation, drink more water, wear appropriate dust masks when outside to avoid illnesses.
He said the haze contains pollutants that could weaken the immune system.
According to DOH, the haze contains dust particles and air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and particulate matter that can trigger respiratory tract infections as well as cardiac ailments such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and cardiovascular diseases.
The haze was further aggravated by the southwest monsoon in Mindanao and also affected the cities of Cagayan de Oro, General Santos and other provinces in the region.
The DENR said it periodically conducts air sampling to determine the levels of pollution in cities and municipalities. The agency is yet to submit its report to concerned local government units.
The Philippine Atmospheric, Geophysical and Astronomical Services Administration or Pagasa reported that Mindanao started to experience the haze on October 18, which comes from the forest fires of Indonesia.
The toxic haze, a mixture of smoke and other pollutants from fires that are ravaging six provinces in Indonesia—Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Central Kalimantan and South Kali-mantan—since June this year have affected Brunei, Vietnam, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore and Cambodia. The Indonesian National Board for Disaster Management had declared a state of emergency in the provinces due to the haze.
Reports from Indonesia said the haze spreading in Southeast Asia is unlikely to be put out until next year.
MOH SAADUDIN and Al Jacinto