First off, what has been enveloping us here in Singapore shouldn’t be called haze. That makes it sound too friendly and unapologetic. How about smog? After all, that’s what this looks like (above).
I cling somewhat desperately to the notion that smog caused by land clearances fires must be less toxic than poisonous air belching out from factories in China, but I am not basing that on any solid facts. It does, however, make me feel better. If only a little.
Then there is the issue of wearing a face mask which it is advisable, once the psi reaches 200 and above. It sounds easy enough, doesn’t it? “Ooohhh, just pop a mask on.”
The reality is those two mega-tight yellow straps at the back are little b*****ds to wrestle with. I can actually feel myself getting into a sweat just thinking about forcing them both over my head. Both my earrings pinged off the first time I tried (glamour and a mask, don’t try it kids).
The other slight problem I have with mask-wearing is that I’m British. What went through my head when I had one on was, “Good Lord, what if someone sees me?” I am of course kidding, but wearing masks just hasn’t caught on in the UK – unless perhaps you’re cycling in central London. Even then it’s very much an optional extra.*
In the interests of living to a ripe old age, I did try to wear a mask when the haze was horrendous and apart from finding it extremely tricky to put on, once I actually got it on, I instantly wanted to take it off; it made me feel boiling and rather cross. But getting it off was almost as hard as getting it on. As soon as I popped inside to cook some lunch, I decided looking ridiculous was easier than having to start wrestling with it all over again when I next went back out.
Not a good look
This is how it looked as soon as I pulled it down…
Again, not really cutting it. A quick rearrangement and it looked like this:
Not sure that’s any better. Oops and I’ve got my eyes closed. I am not going to get very far crossing the road. Not that I could see it very well with my eyes open.
Has anyone mastered the mask? If so, how. Where am I going wrong?
* London actually issued an unprecedented warning to joggers this summer to avoid certain blackspots in the City due to high levels of air pollution.
PS: It’s PM (short for particulate matter) 2.5 that’s the one to watch. When the air particles or droplets are 2.5mm or smaller – that’s 100 times thinner than a human hair in case you were wondering – they are able to penetrate deep into the lungs and are thought to cause all sorts of nasty health risks.