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Budget backgrounder: What is PM2.5 and how it affects air quality

Published on Mar 12, 2014 1:36 AM
 
Haze pictured from Imbiah Lookout, Sentosa, on March 7, 2014. From May, Singapore will have a new Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) that includes tiny, hazardous particles referred to as PM2.5. We look what is PM2.5, and why it matters. -- ST FILE PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

From May, Singapore will have a new Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) that includes tiny, hazardous particles referred to as PM2.5.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) will also provide hourly updates that are more current on PM2.5 levels in the air. Now, the updates are given hourly but are averaged from readings in the previous 24 hours, said Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan during Tuesday’s debate on the ministry’s budget.
We look what is PM2.5, and why it matters.

What is PM2.5?
PM2.5 is a fine particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size – or a thirtieth of the diameter of a human hair.
Over-exposure to it increases the risk of heart and lung illnesses and can reduce an individual’s lifespan. Because the particles are so small, they can penetrate deep into the lungs, and this makes them more toxic. Once these fine particles enter the bloodstream, they go anywhere in the body and it will be very difficult for the body to cleanse it.

What contributes to PM2.5?
PM2.5 can come from many sources, such as vehicles and burning plants. It can also be formed by chemical reactions in the atmosphere.

 
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