Our World Tuesday
I was shocked when a couple of friends messaged me that Singapore National Environment Agency's three-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) reading hit a record 400 on 20 June 2013. I was on a scheduled trip to Shenzhen and was fortunate to enjoy clear blue skies during that weekend.
The smoke from fires on the island of Sumatra, caused by "slash and burn" farming on or near vast palm oil plantations, has drifted across to Malaysia in recent days.
I tried to contact suppliers of N95 masks and air purifiers in Shenzhen but unfortunately, many factories were not opened on weekends.
Glad that I was able to purchase 10 pieces of N95 masks (S$27.50) at Guardian Pharmacy, Changi Airport as soon as I landed. The next day I bought enough masks for my extended family and help some Malaysian friends and relatives buy some too. NTUC sells 10 for S$22.50, the face masks are affordably priced to curb profiteering and to set benchmark prices.
One kind friend sold me a much sought-after air purifier
N95 masks should be bought only when needed so that everyone who needs a face mask may be able to have one. Most of us don't need to use masks, unless we have medical conditions like asthma, or have to do strenuous work outdoors. Wearing a mask is recommended only when the PSI hits very unhealthy ranges (PSI > 200) and when prolonged and strenuous outdoor activity is unavoidable. If the PSI is above 300, you should minimize all outdoor exposure and wear an N95 mask if outdoor activity is unavoidable.
There are enough masks so please do not panic buy or hoard. Look out for one another, especially elderly Singaporeans and young kids. If any of them have respiratory problems, bring them to the clinic immediately.
The haze may have temporarily shifted up north due to a change of wind directions, I immediately went shopping to stock up on fruits, vegetables, herbal soup packs and ingredients for cooling beverages. Surprised to find empty shelves when I wanted to buy green beans, barley and rock sugar.
Drinking green bean soup (绿豆汤) would help dispel internal heat, clear away toxins, promote urination and relieve hot weather ailments and rashes. Green beans are super-nutritious beans rich in protein, fibre, carbohydrates, calcium, phosphorus, iron, and vitamins.
So grateful that some friends are so kind to share their green beans, barley and rock sugar with me when they read my FB post. :)