NEA to introduce PM2.5 reading in PSI

The National Environment Agency announced a new integrated air quality reporting system on Tuesday. (Yahoo photo)

Singapore’s air quality will be classified in the “Moderate” range more often, the National Environment Agency said on Tuesday.

However, this is no cause for alarm — it's simply the result of a new integrated air quality reporting system, the NEA announced.

Starting 1 May, the agency will incorporate readings of fine particulate matter in the air, PM2.5, into the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI).

The agency said that even if the air quality is classified as “Moderate”, the actual concentrations of pollutants may not have changed.  NEA explained that air quality classifications may be in the "Moderate" range more often “due to the integration of the PM2.5 concentrations into the PSI scale”.

PM 2.5 refers to fine particles in the air that measure 2.5 microns or smaller. A micron is a thousandth of a millimeter. According to the NEA website, haze particles are predominantly made up of such fine particles

Currently, the NEA website publishes PM2.5 levels separately from the PSI scale. Now, the agency will incorporating the PM2.5 concentrations into its 3- hour and 24-hour PSI readings. The 1-hour PM2.5 levels will also be published regularly.

In a statement released on Tuesday, the agency advised that “there will be no change to normal routines… as people can carry on normal activity if the air quality is in the ‘Good’ or ‘Moderate’ range".

The NEA said that it has been making the transition to the new system since August 2012.

Local newspaper TODAY reported that the change was also announced by Minister for Environment and Water Resources Dr Vivian Balakrishnan in Parliament on Tuesday.

The agency will continue to make regular air quality reports available on its website, the haze microsite, the NEA Facebook page, the NEA Twitter account and its smartphone app.

NEA also said that it “will continue to regularly review Singapore’s air quality reporting index to ensure that it remains a relevant and useful guide for the public to help plan their daily activities".

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