Air quality hits 'very unhealthy' range on Thursday night, hazy conditions can be expected on Friday: NEA

The haze at around 9.25pm at Braddell Road.
The haze at around 9.25pm at Braddell Road. ST PHOTO: DERRICK HO
Street lights along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 at around 7.55pm.
Street lights along Ang Mo Kio Ave 1 at around 7.55pm.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The view from Kallang river at around 7 pm on Sept 10, 2015.
The view from Kallang river at around 7 pm on Sept 10, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Southern Singapore can be seen shrouded in haze from the Pinnacle@Duxton at 5.17pm.
Southern Singapore can be seen shrouded in haze from the Pinnacle@Duxton at 5.17pm.PHOTO: JANET BALZOMO LIM
The view from Blk 323 Serangoon Ave 3 at around 6.10pm.
The view from Blk 323 Serangoon Ave 3 at around 6.10pm. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
A group of tourists strike a pose at the Merlion Park at around 6pm on Sept 10, 2015.
A group of tourists strike a pose at the Merlion Park at around 6pm on Sept 10, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
Hazy conditions around 5.20pm as seen from the Sports Hub on Sept 10,2015.
Hazy conditions around 5.20pm as seen from the Sports Hub on Sept 10,2015. ST PHOTO: KEVIN LIM
 Bedok Reservoir Park around 4.30pm on Sept 10, 2015. The 3-hour PSI hit 138 at 4pm.
Bedok Reservoir Park around 4.30pm on Sept 10, 2015. The 3-hour PSI hit 138 at 4pm.PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
The haze situation at Bedok Reservoir Park at around 4.30pm on Sept 10.
The haze situation at Bedok Reservoir Park at around 4.30pm on Sept 10. PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI FOR THE STRAITS TIMES
Hazy conditions in the CBD as seen from the Swissotel at 4pm on Sept 10.
Hazy conditions in the CBD as seen from the Swissotel at 4pm on Sept 10. ST PHOTO: ASHLEIGH SIM
View overlooking Katong Shopping Centre and Parkway Parade in the background of the eastern side of Singapore on Sept 10, 2015 at around 3pm.
View overlooking Katong Shopping Centre and Parkway Parade in the background of the eastern side of Singapore on Sept 10, 2015 at around 3pm. ST PHOTO: DESMOND WEE
Man wearing mask crossing the road at Rochor Road at around 11am on Sept 10, 2015.
Man wearing mask crossing the road at Rochor Road at around 11am on Sept 10, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
The skyline in a haze at, with the air quality deteriorating to unhealthy levels on Sept 10, 2015 at around 11am.
The skyline in a haze at, with the air quality deteriorating to unhealthy levels on Sept 10, 2015 at around 11am. ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG
The haze situation, at the junction between Victoria and Rochor Road at 11am on Sept 10, 2015, at 11am.
The haze situation, at the junction between Victoria and Rochor Road at 11am on Sept 10, 2015, at 11am. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
The haze situation at the junction between Victoria and Rochor Road at 11am on Sept 10, 2015.
The haze situation at the junction between Victoria and Rochor Road at 11am on Sept 10, 2015. ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM
The haze scene at Rochor Road at around 11am on Sept 10, 2015.
The haze scene at Rochor Road at around 11am on Sept 10, 2015.ST PHOTO: CHEW SENG KIM

SINGAPORE - The haze has worsened on Thursday (Sept 10), with the three-hour Pollutants Standard Index (PSI) rising into the "very unhealthy" range, hitting 207 at 11pm.  At midnight the reading was 211.

It is the worst haze since April last year when the index measuring air quality was tweaked. Last year, the highest three-hour PSI was 153 on Oct 6, while the highest 24-hour PSI was 125 on Oct 7.

The three-hour readings breached 100 at 2am on Thursday and have been going up since. The 24-hour PSI at 11pm on Thursday was 132 to 148. A reading of 101 to 200 means that air quality is unhealthy. A reading of 201 to 300 indicates that air quality is very unhealthy.

In its haze update at 5pm, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that for the rest of Thursday, the hazy conditions are expected to persist. The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the low to mid levels of the unhealthy range, and may further deteriorate if the winds are unfavourable. For Friday, the prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the south-southeast or south, and hazy conditions can still be expected, it said.

In response to media queries, the Elections Department (ELD) has advised voters who will be out to cast their votes on Polling Day on Friday to take guidance from the advisory issued by the NEA, should haze levels remain in the unhealthy range.

On Thursday, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan conveyed Singapore’s deep concern over the deteriorating haze situation to Indonesian Minister of Environment and Forestry Siti Nurbaya Bakar, when the number of hotspots in Sumatra rose from 140 on Wednesday to 328. He called for urgent action to be undertaken, including stricter action against the perpetrators. 

Both he and Defence Minister Ng Eng Hen repeated Singapore’s offer of help. The authorities here have put on standby aircraft and personnel to seed clouds and carry out aerial firefighting, and a fire-fighting assistance team.  On Thursday, Indonesia sent more than 1,000 soldiers to Sumatra to aid fire-fighting efforts.

When PSI inches above 100, the authorities advise healthy people to reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor activity.

The elderly, pregnant women and children should do as little of such activity as possible, while those suffering from chronic lung or heart disease should avoid engaging in these activities.

 

The Ministry of Health, on its website, advises people to drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated.

The haze, an annual occurrence, is caused by farmers in Indonesia who burn forests to clear their land for agriculture. The act sends smoke haze wafting northward to Singapore and Malaysia.

At least eight flights were cancelled on Thursday at Sultan Thaha Airport in Jambi city in Sumatra, Indonesia, according to Contact Center Angkasa Pura II, the state-owned airport operator for Sumatra and parts of Java islands, Bloomberg reported.

The fires are exacerbated by the local dry season. Indonesian authorities warned last week that this year's haze will be worse than in previous years, the Bernama news agency reported, and could last through end-November.

The S-League football match between Albirex Niigata and Tampines Rovers at Jalan Besar Stadium was postponed due to the haze.  EtonHouse, which runs 17 pre-schools, suspended outdoor activities once the PSI crossed 100. Several firms here have started implementing contingency plans.

Doctors also reported a spike of up to 20 per cent in patients with haze-related conditions, such as blocked noses and irritated skin. 
Dr Michael Lee, deputy medical director of Raffles Medical Group, said: “We expect to see more patients in the coming weeks if the haze continues to worsen.”

For haze updates in Singapore, members of the public can go to the haze microsite at www.haze.gov.sg, follow NEA's Facebook and Twitter page, or download the myENV app.