haze, suspension in the atmosphere of minute dust or salt particles that are not individually seen but that nevertheless reduce visibility. So-called damp haze and dry haze produce different optical effects because the particles of each are of different sizes, with the dry haze particles being smaller. Damp haze may develop from dry haze when water condenses on moisture-absorbing dry haze particles. Continuation of this condensation leads to the formation of fog. A hazy condition often occurs in the summer and affects large areas from cities to mountains. Such a haze is often caused by excessive amounts of pollutants resulting from combustion; for example, the Smoky Mountain haze in Tennessee is ascribed to sulfate particles.

Haze is traditionally an atmospheric phenomenon where dust, smoke and other dry particles obscure the clarity of the sky. The WMO manual of codes includes a classification of horizontal obscuration into categories of fog, ice fog, steam fog, mist, haze, smoke, volcanic ash, dust, sand and snow. Sources for haze particles include farming (ploughing in dry weather), traffic, industry, forest fires and peat field fire.

Seen from afar (e.g. approaching airplane), haze appears brownish, while mist is bluish-grey. Whereas haze formation is a phenomenon of dry air, mist formation is a phenomenon of humid air. However, haze particles may act as condensation nuclei for later mist droplet formation.

Haze is also use to describe turbidity in clear glass or plastic as a percent value, or turbidity in beer or wine.

Air pollution

Haze often occurs when dust and smoke particles accumulate in relatively dry air. When weather conditions block the dispersal of smoke and other pollutants they concentrate and form a usually low-hanging shroud that impairs visibility and may become a respiratory health threat. Industrial pollution can result in dense haze, which is known as smog.

Since 1991, haze has been a particularly acute problem in Southeast Asia. In response the ASEAN countries agreed on a Regional Haze Action Plan (1997) and later signed the Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (2002). Under the agreement the ASEAN secretariat hosts a co-ordination and support unit.


Haze causes issues in the area of terrestrial photography, where the penetration of large amounts of dense atmosphere may be necessary to image distant subjects. This results in the visual effect of a loss of contrast in the subject, due to the effect of light scattering through the haze particles. Haze can be defined as an aerial form of the Tyndall effect therefore unlike other atmospheric effects such as cloud and fog, haze is spectrally selective: shorter (blue) wavelengths are scattered more, and longer (red/infrared) wavelengths are scattered less. For this reason many super-telephoto lenses often incorporate yellow filters or coatings to enhance image contrast.

Infrared (IR) imaging may also be used to penetrate haze over long distances, with a combination of IR-pass optical filters (such as the Wratten 89B) and IR-sensitive detector.


With production of plastic films haze has technical significance as the percentage of light that is deflected more than 2.5° from the incoming light direction.

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