Haze in Singapore could worsen anytime if winds become ‘unfavourable’, NEA warns

The haze seen from Novena in Singapore at 11am on September 12, 2019.

Singapore’s beautiful skyline could soon look like nothing but a big cloud of dust – if a change in wind direction sweeps more haze over to the Republic.

In an update issued on Thursday (Sept 12) evening, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that the hourly PM2.5 concentration readings in Singapore are expected to range between the normal and elevated bands over the following 24 hours.

The Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) for the next 24 hours was also forecast to be in the moderate range. However, it added that the PSI could enter the unhealthy range “if the winds turn unfavourable and the haze situation in Sumatra persists”.

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While Singapore can expect some rain over the next few days, the weather over Sumatra and Kalimantan is forecast to remain generally dry, NEA said.

“The prevailing winds are forecast to shift to blow from the southwest or south, and this may bring increased haziness to Singapore,” it said.

As of noon on Friday, the south of the island had the highest PSI of 96, and was closest to reaching the unhealthy range (101 to 200). South Singapore also recorded the highest 1-hour PM2.5 reading of 64, which is in the elevated band.

PM2.5 is the main air pollutant during the haze season, and NEA recommends checking the 1-hour PM2.5 concentration readings as an indicator of current air quality for immediate activities such as going for a jog.

Air quality in Singapore at 12pm on September 13, 2019.

According to NEA, Singapore experienced slight haziness on Thursday due to smoke haze from hotspots in central and southern Sumatra being blown in by the prevailing winds.

As at 7pm, the 24-hr PSI was still in the moderate range, and the 1-hr PM2.5 concentration readings were in the normal band and the lower end of the elevated band.

Dry weather in the region, including Sumatra and Kalimantan, meant that moderate to dense smoke haze continued to emanate from persistent hotspots. There were a total of 222 hotspots detected in Sumatra, while 1,264 were detected in Kalimantan on Thursday.

Wind directions and haze movement on September 12, 2019.

Given the current situation, NEA said that the elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. People who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.

Healthy individuals should also reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, it said.

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