Air quality in Singapore remains at a moderate to unhealthy level due to a haze in the area, but the situation seems to be improving. According to the National Environment Agency of Singapore, the PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) is 72-81, a bit lower than at the beginning of this week when the value reached 160 at times. The changes are due to widespread showers over the area which cleared the air, as well as changes in the wind conditions. The air quality is considered unhealthy when the PSI value reaches 100 and more. Good air quality is described with a PSI of 50 and under and moderate when the value is between 50 and 100.
According to the local authorities, prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, such as outdoor sports, should be reduced. Especially the elderly, pregnant women, children and people suffering from chronic heart and lung illnesses should minimize all physical outdoor activity due to the increased risk to health hazards. For healthy people, exposure to the haze can cause for example irritation of eyes, nose and throat as well as other respiratory problems.
The smoke haze is caused by the wide-ranging forest fires mostly in Sumatra, Indonesia. The annual phenomena has been said to be caused by farmers and some companies using the illegal method of burning forests in order to create more land for their expanding plantations, and the smoke affects Singapore and the southern parts of the Malay Peninsula when the prevailing winds carry it over the area. Hazy conditions are expected to persist at least for today and the situation may worsen should the wind continue to blow the smoke towards Singapore. Rainfall and showers as well as changes in the wind directions may help to clear the air.