As forest and land fires continue to rage in Indonesia, Singapore is preparing for a potential deterioration in air quality. The National Environment Agency (NEA) of Singapore has issued a warning as the number of hotspots in Sumatra has significantly increased, raising concerns about the haze that could impact the city-state.
Haze, typically caused by the burning of forests and peatlands, is a recurring issue for the region during dry seasons. The NEA reported that on October 6, there were 212 hotspots detected in Sumatra, a stark contrast to the 65 hotspots identified on October 5 and the mere 15 on the day prior. This substantial uptick has raised concerns over the possibility of haze affecting Singapore in the coming days.
Haze Advisory and Its Significance
In response to the increased risk, the NEA is set to commence issuing daily haze advisories, beginning on the evening of October 7. These advisories will include the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) forecast, which serves as a crucial tool for the public in planning their activities and events. The PSI provides a clear picture of air quality levels and whether they fall within the healthy range or venture into unhealthy territory.
It’s not just the NEA that is taking action. Various sectors have received prior advisories, including healthcare institutions, childcare centers, schools, and workplaces. These advisories aim to remind these organizations to take necessary measures to manage haze effectively, especially if air quality moves into the unhealthy range.
The Impact of Haze
Haze is not just a matter of inconvenience; it poses health risks as well. Prolonged exposure to haze can lead to respiratory problems and aggravate pre-existing conditions. Vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and individuals with respiratory issues are at higher risk. The NEA is actively monitoring the situation, and its advisories are instrumental in helping the public make informed decisions to protect their health.
The NEA has urged people to stay updated on the situation, especially over the weekend when the haze is expected to impact Singapore. It is advisable for residents to take necessary precautions if air quality worsens, such as reducing outdoor activities and using masks if needed.
Singapore’s preparedness for the potential haze crisis serves as a reminder of the environmental and health challenges that transboundary haze pollution poses in the region. It highlights the importance of international cooperation and a coordinated effort to prevent forest and land fires.