Hazy conditions in Singapore to persist in coming days

Today Online 5 Sep 15;

SINGAPORE — The haze that has hung over Singapore this past week is expected to linger, with the 24-hour Pollutants Standards Index (PSI) expected to be in the high end of the moderate range (51 to 100) today (Sept 5), ­authorities said.

This is even as air quality improved yesterday, after deteriorating during the week as hot spots in Sumatra continued to be detected.

As at 7pm yesterday, the 24-hour PSI was 71 to 80 and the one-hour PM2.5 was 17 to 30 mcg/m3. “The number of hotspots detected in Sumatra decreased to 50 today from 111 yesterday. The lower hotspot count was due to cloud cover over central parts of Sumatra. Moderate to dense smoke haze was observed in southern Sumatra,” the National Environment Agency (NEA) said.

A day earlier, the NEA had warned of 24-hour PSI creeping into the low-end of the unhealthy range (101 to 200) amid worsening air quality, and had said the haze situation would be unlikely to change significantly in the next few days, due to dry weather conditions in the region. As at 9pm on Thursday, the 24-hour PSI was between 82 and 94, while the three-hour PSI reading hit a high of 107 at 11am, before falling to 83 at 9pm.

However, conditions yesterday were less severe than expected. In the course of the week, the number of hot spots detected daily rose from 29 last Sunday, to 395 on Wednesday, before falling on Thursday.

NEA chief executive officer Ronnie Tay wrote to his Indonesian counterpart this week to “register Singapore’s concerns” and seek an urgent update on the situation on the ground. The NEA also reiterated Singapore’s offer of an assistance package to Indonesia to help the country combat smoke haze.

Yesterday, the NEA said the prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the southeast today. “Singapore may experience occasional slightly hazy conditions. Thundery showers are forecast in the late morning and early afternoon. The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the high end of moderate range,” the agency said.

The NEA also said everyone can continue with normal activities, but the impact of haze is dependent on one’s health status, the PSI level, and the length and intensity of outdoor activity. “Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention,” it added.