Haze in 'unhealthy' range in Singapore for first time in over 3 years

Hazy conditions in Bukit Timah area at 1.50pm on Saturday (14 September). PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore
Hazy conditions spotted in Bukit Timah at 1.50pm on 14 September, 2019. (PHOTO: Dhany Osman/Yahoo News Singapore)

SINGAPORE — Singapore recorded the first “unhealthy” haze reading in over three years on Saturday afternoon (14 September).

As of 4pm, the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading for the West area of Singapore entered the unhealthy range at 103, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA) website. The readings for the North, Central, South and East areas were 89, 88, 97, and 86, respectively, in the moderate range.

The unhealthy range for the 24-hour PSI reading is from 101 to 200.

The last time Singapore recorded a reading in the same range was at 2pm on 29 August, 2016 in the North area.

At 6pm, the 24-hr PSI reading for the West area rose to 108 while the readings for the other areas remained in the moderate range.

The 1-hr PM2.5 reading across all the areas in Singapore were in Band II (Elevated) in the North, Central, South and East, ranging from 90 µg/m3 to 116 µg/m3, and in Band III (High) in the West at 158 µg/m3 at 4pm on Saturday.

The NEA noted a deterioration in the haze conditions in Singapore on Saturday afternoon in its daily haze advisory.

Dry weather persisted over central and southern Sumatra with a total of 450 hotspots were detected mostly in the Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra provinces, a jump from 156 hotspots on Friday, the NEA said.

Moderate to dense smoke haze from hotspots in Riau and Jambi has been blown by the prevailing winds to affect Singapore and the southern parts of peninsular Malaysia.

For the next few days, dry weather can be expected in Singapore and over central and southern Sumatra. Singapore may continue to experience hazy conditions, the NEA added.

For the next 24 hours, the 1-hr PM2.5 concentration readings are expected to range between bands II (elevated) and III (high) while the 24-hr PSI is forecast to range between the high-end of the moderate and the low end of the unhealthy range, according to the NEA.

With the haze in the unhealthy range, the NEA has advised the public to reduce, minimise or avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.

A view of forest fire at Soak Bato village on 9 September, 2019, in Ogan ilir regency, South Sumatra province, Indonesia. (PHOTO: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)
A view of forest fire at Soak Bato village on 9 September, 2019, in Ogan ilir regency, South Sumatra province, Indonesia. (PHOTO: Barcroft Media via Getty Images)

The thick haze across the Malaysian state of Sarawak has forced the closure of hundreds of schools earlier this week, according to local media reports.

In Ipoh, the haze led to cancelled flights at the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, affecting more than one thousand air passengers, the Malay Mail reported on Friday.

Thousands of Indonesians affected by the haze have held mass prayers for rain in the past few days.

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