Better air quality draws Singaporeans outdoors

Children playing at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park at 5.30pm yesterday. The PSI eased to 104-114 at 3pm, from up to 124 in the morning. By midnight, it had further dropped to 82-96, within the moderate range.
Children playing at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park at 5.30pm yesterday. The PSI eased to 104-114 at 3pm, from up to 124 in the morning. By midnight, it had further dropped to 82-96, within the moderate range.ST PHOTO: TIMOTHY DAVID

Reading expected to improve to high end of moderate range overnight, says NEA

Singaporeans may breathe better when they wake up today, with improvements to the air quality expected.

The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday evening that the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading is expected to gradually improve over the next 24 hours to the high end of the moderate range overnight - if prevailing wind conditions continue.

Normal activities can largely continue, given the forecast, it added.

Already, many Singaporeans ventured outdoors yesterday afternoon, when there was a slight respite from the hazy conditions that shrouded the island throughout the weekend.

The PSI eased to 104-114 at the lower end of the unhealthy range at 3pm, from up to 124 in the morning. By midnight, it had further dropped to 82-96, within the moderate range.

When The Straits Times visited Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park at about 3.30pm, dog walkers were out as usual. There were also several joggers and three domestic helpers having their fortnightly picnic.

About 25 parrot owners had also gathered for a meet-up, including undergraduate Ng Hui Min, 24, and her yellow-naped amazon parrot.

"The event went ahead because everything was already prepared, and the haze situation feels better today," said Ms Ng yesterday.

Retiree Tan Seng Kok, 63, goes to the park once every three days - and it was no different yesterday.

 
 
 

"The haze is not that bad, but even if it worsens, I would still come to enjoy the breeze and the flowers," he said in Mandarin as he rested in his wheelchair.

The PSI crossed the unhealthy level last Saturday for the first time since 2016 when western Singapore's reading was 103 at 4pm.

Yesterday's clearer skies meant Ms Sheila Ong, 26, and her boyfriend Toby Grund, 30, could spend a day at Bishan-Ang Mo Kio Park.

"We would have gone to the beach or the Botanic Gardens yesterday," said Ms Ong. Instead, because of the haze, the couple, who are both architects, went to a friend's house and the cinema.

A PSI reading of 101 to 200 is in the unhealthy range, for which the NEA advises the public to cut down on outdoor activities.

A reading of zero to 50 indicates that the air quality is good; 51 to 100 means it is moderate. The air quality is considered very unhealthy when the PSI ranges from 201 to 300, and it is hazardous when it goes above 300.

Public agencies are continuing with business as usual, but with plans in place should the haze worsen.

Schools will reopen today. Classrooms are equipped with air purifiers and teachers will look out for students who are unwell or have pre-existing lung or heart conditions, said the Ministry of Education. It said it will consider closing schools when the air quality forecast for the next day is hazardous.

Meanwhile, Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) training will "proceed as much as possible, to ensure (soldiers) are well trained and ready for any eventuality", said the Ministry of Defence. A spokesman added that SAF units will adjust their outdoor and training activities accordingly if the 24-hour PSI readings go above 100.

He said: "Regardless of the haze conditions, the SAF stands ready to safeguard Singapore's peace and security."

  • Additional reporting by Timothy Goh


ST PHOTO: GAVIN FOO

Some respite from the haze

It was Nur Hakiman Abdullah's 11th birthday, and he was not about to let the haze stop him from having fun. With brother Muhammad Al Amien Ramli, 29, and three-year-old niece Siti Khadijah Lokman, he frolicked in the water at East Coast Park yesterday. Singaporeans yesterday ventured out when there was a slight respite from the haze that shrouded the island over the weekend. The air improved due to prevailing winds shifting to blow from the south-east.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on September 16, 2019, with the headline 'Better air quality draws Singaporeans outdoors'. Print Edition | Subscribe