(FRIDAY UPDATE: Singapore’s PSI hits 400 as residents dig in for long haul)
Singapore’s chronic air pollution soared again today as a government delegation headed to Jakarta for an emergency meeting with Indonesian counterparts, six days after the haze first descended on the city state.
The 3-hour PSI reading – the measurement used to measure air pollution – stood at 371 at 1pm today, up from the 299 recorded at noon, according to Singapore’s National Environment Agency. The PSI reading was down to 355 at 2pm. Anything between 101 and 200 is considered ‘unhealthy’ and over 300 is ‘hazardous’.
The average PSI recorded over 24 hours stood at between 169-196 this morning; a significant spike of 321 PSI was recorded at 11pm last night, a historic high for the city.
The declining air quality has sparked outrage online and spurred all parts of the government into action.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore will insist on affirmative action at today’s emergency meeting in Jakarta. Through his Facebook page he said: “This is now the worst haze that Singapore has ever faced. And no country or corporation has the right to pollute the air at the expense of Singaporeans’ health and wellbeing.”
All 23 government agencies will be part of the Singapore Government’s Inter-Agency Haze Task Force (HTF). The National Environment Agency advised Singaporeans, especially the elderly, children and people with respiratory problems, to avoid prolonged exposure outdoors.
The Ministry of Health has told hospitals to prepare for an anticipated increase in the number of cases of asthma, bronchitis and conjunctivitis. Workplaces have begun issuing masks for workers, as hospitals also reported a rise in patients – mainly middle-aged adults and seniors – with asthma and breathing-related disorders.
Guidelines have been issued by the Ministry of Manpower to ensure the city-state’s large migrant workforce doesn’t get exposed as air quality continues to decline. School closures are also being considered.
Singaporeans have taken to social media sites to vent about the pollution with hundreds of haze images posted on Instagram and a dedicated #sghaze hashtag trending on Twitter. Malaysia’s Prime Minister Najib Razak used his Twitter account to warn against outdoor activities and to recommend drinking plenty of water, adding that the haze was expected to worsen.
Not everyone is at panic stations though: brands have been quick to sieze on the opportunity to promote their wares, with Adidas offering Singaporeans free gym membership for a day on the condition that they own an item of Adidas clothing.