Singapore air quality turns unhealthy again; F1 race will be challenging this time

Singapore detects 'haze' smell in some parts, 24-hour PSI reaches moderate level
A view of the skyline of Singapore shrouded by haze in Singapore (Representational picture) Reuters

The air quality in Singapore is fluctuating as on Friday, September 20 the haze was lifted but again on Saturday, it returned. Singapore F1 night race is one of the most important and exciting races of the calendar, so F1 has confirmed that they do have a contingency plan for the potentially poor air quality.

Caused by Indonesian forest fires, the poor air quality has deteriorated overnight as the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) showed that it is moving again towards the unhealthy range.

The 24-hour PSI reading was between 65 and 68 on Friday night but on Saturday, at around 11 am onwards it was 92 to 98, within the moderate range.

PSI reading range
0-50: Good air quality
51-100: Moderate air quality
201-300: Very unhealthy air quality
Above 300: Hazardous air quality

The National Environment Agency (NEA) stated that the 1-hour PM2.5 concentration, is a better indicator of current air quality, was 27 to 44 micrograms per cubic m, within the normal band, at around 11 am. This is similar to the PM2.5 reading of 20 to 49, within the normal range, 12 hours earlier.

PM2.5 concentration scale
8-55: Normal
56-150: Elevated
151-250: High
Above 250: Very high

It should be noted that the forest fires in Sumatra are a result of illegal measures to clear land for agriculture and have gone out of control and Jakarta has since deployed security forces and air sprays to tackle the problem.

Earlier NEA officials stated that the air quality in Manila is very interchangeable which means it is not possible to reliably predict the PSI ahead of the Grand Prix event this weekend.

Singapore Grand Prix
Workers walk on the track ahead of the Singapore F1 Grand Prix at the Marina Bay street circuit in Singapore... Reuters

An F1 spokesperson claimed the race organizers are taking measures to reduce the effects of the haze for both the drivers and the spectators. They had set several measures such as public information at the circuit as a notification measure.

Jean NG, the executive director of sports for the board said assistance would also be available on-site for any spectators that feel unwell and the government agencies have been collaborating with F1 organizers to make sure the event will be a success.

It should be mentioned that this track is one of the very strategic and harder race tracks in the F1 season schedule considering the conditions tend to be hot and humid. But it is believed that the night haze will become an additional challenge for the F1 drivers.

Disposable masks, which cover the nose and mouth to protect the wearer from breathing in small particles of haze in the air, will be available for sale at merchandise booths if the pollution hits certain predetermined levels, said Singapore GP authority.

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