SINGAPORE - The continuing hazy conditions on Sunday (Sept 13) have kept Singaporeans away from strenuous outdoor activities, as the 24-hour Pollutants Standard Index (PSI) remained in the unhealthy band.
A number of races originally scheduled on Sunday morning were either cancelled or turned into walks so that participants would not exert themselves in the unhealthy air.
People who engaged in regular weekend activities such as cycling and running also had to change their routines.
The 24-hour PSI - a measure of air pollution - at 7am stood at 112-132. Air is considered unhealthy if a reading of between 101 and 200 is recorded.
The reading at 11pm stood at 134-157.
For the Safra Celebration Run and Ride event on Sentosa, its 5km celebration run and 1.5km life run were both converted into walks so as to prevent participants from engaging in "strenuous outdoor physical exertion".
Organisers of the Yellow Ribbon Prison Run also turned its 10km competitive and 6km fun runs into a 6km walk.
Para-athlete Shariff Abdullah, 46, who took part in the Yellow Ribbon event, said the "organisers were wise in not taking any risks".
He added: "The haze situation was quite bad in the morning. My eyes were tearing and I could smell the smoke in the air.
"Most of the participants here are not aiming for medals but to support the ex-offenders. Even though the runs are cancelled, the purpose is the same."
The POSB PAssion Run for Kids, a charity event held by the People's Association and POSB bank, was cancelled. But it went ahead with its planned carnival at Marina Bay Promontory.
Meanwhile, the Singtel-Singapore Cancer Society Race Against Cancer, originally scheduled to take place at 7am, was cancelled altogether.
In an update yesterday, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said the current hazy conditions are expected to persist for the rest of Sunday and Monday.
For Monday, the prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the south or southwest, and the haze situation could deteriorate as the current unfavourable winds may blow in denser haze from Sumatra.
Thundery showers forecasted for Singapore in the late morning and early afternoon on Monday may only bring a short temporary respite.
The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the mid to high sections of unhealthy range, and may enter the low section of very unhealthy range if the unfavourable winds bring in denser haze from Sumatra, said NEA in its 6pm haze update.
In Indonesia, air quality in Pekanbaru, capital of Riau - a province second closest to Singapore - remained in the hazardous level, or above 300, from Saturday night through Sunday noon, before it recovered to the unhealthy level. Most of the hotspots that caused the choking haze were in the southern part of Sumatra. Soldiers deployed to South Sumatra to help control the fire last week are struggling to find adequate sources of water and to deal with fire that is burning underneath the peatland.
There were 944 hotspots in Sumatra. Said Mr Sutopo Purwo Nugroho, spokesman for the Indonesian national disaster management agency (BNPB), in a statement: "The number of hotspots is still high, indicating that the acts of burning forest and land have continued, and even within the national parks."
In Malaysia, 19 areas, including places in Johor and Selangor, recorded unhealthy air quality as at 5pm on Sunday.
In Singapore, the NEA said that the health impact of haze is dependent on one's health status, the PSI level, and the length and intensity of outdoor activity. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help limit the ill effects from haze exposure.
Given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, NEA said.
The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.
Those who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention, NEA added.
The Ministry of Health (MOH), on its website, advises people to drink plenty of water to stay well-hydrated in the event of haze.
Members of the public can also follow NEA's Facebook and Twitter pages, or download the myENVapp.
More information on the impact of haze on health can be found at MOH's website at www.moh.gov.sg/content/moh_web/home.html
Additional reporting by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja in Indonesia