Singapore to get respite from the haze for a few days

Change in wind direction sends the worst of the pollution to Malaysia

SINGAPORE can expect to see clearer skies and healthier air for the next few days than it did last week, while Malaysia bears the brunt of the haze, as the wind is projected to blow the bulk of it there.

Weather services director Patricia Ee at Meteorological Service Singapore said air quality improved here yesterday because low-level winds over the Republic changed direction from southwesterly to southerly, and these conditions are expected to persist for the next few days.

Thus, air quality here is expected to remain "moderate" today, with the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) projected to be in the 51-100 range.

Even so, because the levels of small, toxic particles called PM2.5 are still quite high, the Government is sticking to a stricter health advisory.

Thus, pregnant women, the elderly and children are still advised to curtail outdoor activities that last several hours, while those with chronic lung and heart diseases should avoid all outdoor activities if possible.

Ms Ee said "very unhealthy" air was initially forecast for yesterday, but the projection had to be revised when the change in wind direction led to cleaner air.

She said Singapore is so small that even minor shifts in wind direction will result in the haze being blown over to Malaysia.

Ministers and experts here warned that Singapore was not out of the woods yet.

Speaking to reporters earlier yesterday, Acting Manpower Minister Tan Chuan Jin noted that Indonesia was only at the start of its dry season.

"The season extends all the way to September, and that's a few more months."

Nanyang Technological University's Professor Euston Quah, who has published groundbreaking studies on air pollution and transboundary haze, said: "Whenever you have an intense dry season, there is a fear that nature itself could spark a fire."

Dr Benjamin Grandey from the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology was sceptical about Indonesia's attempt to artificially create rain.

"Deep convective clouds and clouds in general are very complicated. I do not believe cloud-seeding can be used with any degree of skill to influence the weather in the way people want."

zengkun@sph.com.sg