Haze in Singapore: Air quality remains moderate as schools reopen on Monday

Clearer skies in Bukit Panjang at 7.35am on Sept 16, 2019, when the PSI reading was 87.
Clearer skies in Bukit Panjang at 7.35am on Sept 16, 2019, when the PSI reading was 87.ST PHOTO: NG SOR LUAN

SINGAPORE - The air quality in Singapore remains in the moderate range on Monday (Sept 16) as schools reopen after the one-week school holiday.

The 1-hour PM2.5 concentration reading was between 62 and 87 micrograms per cubic metre, which is in the elevated range, at 6pm on Monday. The readings have generally been rising since the morning.

The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) was 75 in the east, within the moderate range - the lowest in Singapore. The west  had the highest reading of 84, while readings in the other regions ranged from 77 to 83.

The Ministry of Education said on Sunday that it was ready to take appropriate haze management measures. 

It added that the well-being of students remains a priority, and that all classrooms of primary and secondary schools, MOE kindergartens and special education schools have been equipped with air purifiers. The schools have had these on hand for such situations since the last bad haze in 2015.

Teachers will also be on the lookout for students who are unwell or have pre-existing lung or heart conditions.

The ministry said it will consider closing schools when the air quality forecast for the next day is "hazardous" - when the 24-hour PSI rises above 300.

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

There are four bands on the PM2.5 concentration scale: 0 to 55 for normal, 56 to 150 for elevated, 151 to 250 for high, and very high for any higher readings.

The MOE said it has other management measures in place should the PSI level fall in the "unhealthy" and "very unhealthy" ranges of 101 to 300. Should school closures coincide with national examinations, the affected exam papers will be rescheduled and the exam period extended.

Other public agencies also intend to continue with business as usual, but have plans in place in case of worsening conditions.


The People's Association said that its activities would carry on as long as the air quality remained within the healthy range, and that it had prepared air-conditioned rooms in its residents' committees centres and community clubs for members of the public seeking respite from the haze, should the hourly PM2.5 index cross into the unhealthy range.

A Ministry of Defence spokesman said that the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) has a set of guidelines in place, and that the SAF's training will "proceed as much as possible, to ensure (soldiers) are well-trained and ready for any eventuality".

The 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."