SINGAPORE: Singapore registered its worst level of air pollution for the year on Friday as smoke from forest fires in Indonesia blew over the city—state, triggering a health warning.
Singapore’s three—hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) hit a high of 79 at 7am on Friday. The air began to clear later in the morning thanks to favourable winds.
The PSI fell to a reading of 33 at noon, before climbing to 52 at 5pm.
A PSI reading of 0—50 indicates air quality is "good", 51—100 is "moderate" while anything above 100 is considered "unhealthy".
"For the past one week, an increase in hotspot activities was observed over Sumatra," the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in its latest update.
"The current prevailing winds blowing from the southwest or south have transported the haze from fires in southern Sumatra towards Singapore," referring to the Indonesian island.
It said hazy conditions could still recur and advised people with heart or lung disease, children and older adults aged 65 and above to avoid all physical activity outdoors.
"Everyone else should avoid prolonged or heavy exertion," NEA added.
Fires in Indonesia are mostly concentrated in the provinces of Jambi and South Sumatra.
The haze caused by the fires builds up during the dry season when farmers clean their land by burning, affecting tourism and contributing to health problems across the region.
Indonesia’s government has outlawed land—clearing by fire but weak law enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.
As Singapore braces for more hazy days ahead, the NEA will provide hourly updates of the three—hour PSI reading from 7am to 7pm daily to keep the public informed more regularly of the haze situation.
Meanwhile businesses and the organisers of a major marathon said there are contingency plans in place.
Organisers of the SAFRA Singapore Bay Run & Army Half Marathon 2012 said they are ready to cancel the event on Sunday morning if the PSI reaches an unhealthy level by Saturday evening.
Participants are advised to check the SAFRA website for more information.
One bicycle rental shop at a beach attraction said it is considering giving out masks to its customers.
Others with back—up plans include the Singapore Flyer.
Singapore Flyer’s senior manager for guest services, Henry Loo, said: "If the haze is bad, it will be a national problem. Everybody will be advised to stay indoors. So, we will definitely discourage our visitors from boarding the capsules. But, for those visitors who have already purchased tickets, we will encourage them to come back another day, or if they insist, we will refund them."
The public can access PSI updates through the following channels:
a) Weather@SG website at www.weather.nea.gov.sg/
c) NEA Call Centre at 1800 CALL NEA (1800 2255 632)
d) NEA iPhone/Android App myENV
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