Govt agencies prepared to tackle haze but public should take precautions, says NEA as PSI hits 81
The public is advised to check the air quality before participating in strenuous or outdoor activities, said the National Environment Agency (NEA), on behalf of an inter-agency task force looking into the haze situation here.
This is even as Singapore is not expected to be affected by dense haze because of the current wind patterns, although there was an increase in the number of hot spots over Sumatra in the last few days – 241 and 145 on Wednesday and Thursday respectively – with moderate to dense haze observed over parts of south and central Sumatra, the NEA said on Friday.
But Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings may deteriorate if the wind shifts, it added.
As at 3pm on Friday, the 24-hour PSI was 81, in the moderate range, in the east of Singapore.
The public should refer to the current one-hour PM2.5 concentration as an indicator of current air quality, and refer to the guide on www.haze.gov.sg when planning activities, as the haze’s impact on people depends on their health status.
To reduce ill effects from haze exposure, the public should reduce outdoor activities and physical exertion, and drink water to stay hydrated, said the task force.
Those with chronic heart and lung conditions should have medication readily available, and vulnerable people – including the elderly, pregnant women and children – should seek medical attention if they develop symptoms or feel unwell.
The Government’s Haze Task Force, led by NEA and comprises 28 government agencies, is ready to implement haze action plans should the air quality worsen, the agency said.
These responses are customised according to the severity of the haze, based on the 24-hour PSI readings and forecasts.
The release said there are enough N95 masks in warehouses and government stockpiles, though “generally, N95 masks are not required for short periods of exposure, such as commuting from home to school or work, or in an indoor environment”.
Such masks are recommended under certain conditions, including if a healthy individual needs to be outdoors for several hours when the forecast air quality is more than 300, or in the hazardous range.
The Ministry of Health has worked with healthcare institutions, including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes, to prepare air purifiers, fans and portable air coolers to combat the haze, and to monitor patients closely for possible health effects of the haze.
Additionally, community care providers for seniors and pre-schools will minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor activities when the PSI is in the “unhealthy range” (101-200). Outdoor activities for seniors will stop when the forecast air quality reaches the very unhealthy range (201-300).
All pre-schools are equipped with air purifiers, as well as classrooms in primary and secondary schools, Ministry of Education kindergartens and special education schools.
Pre-schools should have at least one enclosed room with air purifiers on that can temporarily accommodate children who are unwell due to the haze, before they are picked up by their parents. Teachers will also look out for students with heart or lung problems.
In terms of sporting events, organisers should do their own risk management and take note of health advisories, said national sports agency Sport Singapore, while the public is advised to monitor the air quality when exercising outdoors.
The Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team departments will “continue to safeguard Singapore’s peace and security amid the haze situation” and adjust its level and intensity of training and outdoor activities according to the 24-hour PSI forecast.
Air-conditioned rooms are also available in most residents’ committee centres and community centres for members of the public who want to seek respite from the haze, if the 24-hour PSI is more than 200.
NEA said it is closely monitoring the haze situation and will provide daily haze advisories if the 24-hour PSI is expected to enter the unhealthy range.