Sumatra forest fire causes haze in Singapore, PSI enters unhealthy range

Haze from Indonesian fires cost Singapore S$700 million in 2015
Haze in Singapore Reuters

The air quality in Singapore is showing an abnormality on Sunday morning as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading crossed the unhealthy level almost in all parts of the country. As per the National Environment Agency (NEA), this haze was first noticed on Saturday, September 14.

It was reported that at around 8 am the 24-hour PSI reading ranged from 107 in the east to 124 in western Singapore and since the reading is in the unhealthy range, NEA advised people to stay at home while reducing their outdoor plans.

It was reported that the air quality reached the "unhealthy" range on Saturday for the first time since 2016 when PSI reading ranged 103 in western Singapore.

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

However, NEA noted that at around 8 am the one-hour PM2.5 reading ranged between 26 micrograms per cubic metre in the east and 37 and at around 10 am it ranged between 29 and 47. It indicated that PM2.5 concentration readings were at normal levels in all parts of the island on Sunday.

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

NEA explained that the air quality worsened due to winds blowing more smoke haze from Sumatra rainforest which is in the south of Singapore. This precious swathe of the rainforest was burning from January to last month in the heart of Riau, which is not far from the Republic.

Earlier, Erwin Daulay from WWF Singapore said, "My team and I are currently fighting the fires in Riau. Our resources are depleting and we need your help now, more than ever, to help put out the fire. The smoke generated from these fires could reach our neighbouring countries like Singapore and we need to stop this!"

Effects of haze

As mentioned earlier, NEA advised people to cut out their outdoor weekend plans, because the haze may cause irritation in eyes, throats and nose. Mainly elderly, pregnant women and children should avoid going out when the weather is not normal.

On the other hand, because of this haze, the temperature in Singapore has reduced. Before the weekend the temperature was 33°C but on Saturday the highest temperature was only 30.5°C and on Sunday at 31°C.