Singapore under haze as air quality deemed ‘very unhealthy’

SINGAPORE, Aug. 26 (UPI) — Singapore’s air quality entered the unhealthy category Friday, with Indonesian forest fires causing a smoky haze over the city.

A three-hour Pollutants Standards Index measured by Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) peaked at 215, with a reading of 200 regarded as “very unhealthy,” before dropping Friday evening. The haze, however, is expected to remain, and will remain a health hazard for at least the next 24 hours.

After the high reading, the index, based on observations throughout the city-state, hovered in the 90-130 range, regarded as “unhealthy.”

The conditions in Singapore, which include an acrid odor, are caused by forest and peat fires in neighboring Indonesia blown in by the prevailing westerly winds, the agency said. The fires are an annual land-clearing practice in Indonesia, and one that has caused tension between Singapore and Indonesia; a letter from the NEA chief Liak Teng Lit to his Indonesian counterpart urged that his country “continue taking the necessary actions to prevent and mitigate the fires during this dry season.”

The NEA advised Singapore residents to reduce outdoor exercise, and warned that the elderly, the young and those with heart or lung conditions should seek medical attention. Schools have been closed and many events have been cancelled.

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