Thursday, August 06, 2009

Haze is back

This morning I took this picture from my office building. Seems like the haze is back indeed. Although I saw the haze at home this morning, a visit to NEA website this morning stated PSI was still good. I wonder if it got worse in the next update. Oh well. This Channel NewsAsia article shows that it did.

Haze in Singapore as 50 hot spots detected in Sumatra
By Hasnita A Majid, Channel NewsAsia
06 August 2009

SINGAPORE: The haze is back in Singapore and you can expect more hazy days ahead.

Smoke haze shrouded Singapore on Thursday morning, with an acrid burning smell hanging in the air.

And the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), which measures the air quality in Singapore, was around 60 on Thursday.

Though this is still in the moderate range, it is however slightly higher than Wednesday's reading of 52.

Smoke haze has been blowing into Singapore and the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that over the past few days, its satellite pictures detected significant hot spots with moderate to dense smoke.

The hot spots are mainly in the Sumatran provinces of Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra.

On Thursday alone, 50 hot spots were detected in Sumatra.

NEA added that with prevailing dry weather in the region and the wind direction expected to remain the same in the next few days, hazy conditions can be expected in Singapore over the next few days.

Doctors have cautioned against outdoor activities if the situation worsens, especially for those with respiratory illnesses.

Dr Chuah Li Li, a general practitioner from My Family Doctor, said: "Usually the discomfort is felt in the eyes, where people will feel there is a little bit of the smarting discomfort or a dry sensation. The other thing that you might feel is the throat discomfort.

"For people who have lung problems, chronic obstructive lung disease and asthma, there might be a sensation if there's a little bit of difficulty in breathing and a chest tightness or cough.

"Elderly people with pre-existing lung condition or children with asthma should actually cut down on outdoor activities, especially strenuous activities like playing basketball and football."

But members of the public are not too concerned about the situation now.

"At the moment, still not so serious, maybe if it gets serious, we will do some precautionary measures," said a member of the public.

Singapore has expected the haze to return this year as the El Nino weather phenomenon develops, bringing with it hotter and drier weather.

The situation is expected to worsen in the coming months, especially when the dry weather peaks in September.

The haze is the result of smoke from slash and burn activities in Indonesia, when farmers clear their lands to make way for new crops.

Hot and dry weather can also cause dry twigs and leaves to burst into flames spontaneously.

Just recently, Singapore handed over three air and weather monitoring stations to Jambi Province in Sumatra to help calculate the risk of fires starting and spreading in the surrounding areas during dry weather.

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