Burning smell across Singapore should occur less frequently in coming weeks: NEA

An increase in showers is expected around early April, and this will help to reduce the occurrence of the burning smell in the next one or two weeks, said the National Environment Agency.
An increase in showers is expected around early April, and this will help to reduce the occurrence of the burning smell in the next one or two weeks, said the National Environment Agency.PHOTO: ST FILE

SINGAPORE - The burning smell which has been reported across the island over the past two months may soon occur less frequently, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Thursday (March 28).

On Feb 8, residents living in several parts of eastern Singapore, including Tampines, Bedok and Pasir Ris, reported a "strong burning smell" similar to haze.

The source of the smell was later traced to a landfill fire in south-eastern Johor, which was later extinguished.

Complaints about the smell continued through mid-February and March, however, due to other fires and hot spots in the region.

On Thursday, NEA said it has continued to receive feedback from the public about the burning smell in various areas of Singapore.

The agency said that hot spots with smoke plumes have been occasionally detected in southern Johor, which is experiencing dry and hot weather during the current dry phase of the north-east monsoon.

The intermittent burning smell in many parts of the island over the past several weeks was the result of these smoke plumes.

 
 
 
 

However, inter-monsoon conditions are forecast to set in around early April, and an increase in showers is expected over the surrounding region. This will help to reduce the occurrence of the burning smell in the next one or two weeks, said NEA.

NEA added that since 11pm on Wednesday, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) across Singapore has ranged from 52-67, which is in the "moderate" range, while the one-hour PM2.5 readings ranged between 1 and 53 micrograms per cu m (mcg/m3), in the "normal" range.

The agency said that given the current air quality, everyone can continue with their normal activities.

NEA added that it is closely monitoring the air quality and will provide updates on any significant changes to the situation.

On Sunday, Senior Minister of State for the Environment and Water Resources Amy Khor said that some of the fires in southern Johor are on oil palm plantations and forested areas, including peatlands.

She explained that peatland fires are more difficult to put out as the peat is burning deep underground, but also noted that the increased rain during the inter-monsoon period might help mitigate the effect of such hot spots.

Dr Khor advised those who experience any discomfort from the burning smell to follow tips posted on the NEA website.