Tuesday, 7 October 2014

More Hazy Days To Come

Singapore haze alert: 3-hour PSI hits 'unhealthy' level
Yahoo Newsroom - The National Environment Agency said that southwesterly winds brought haze to Singapore on Monday, 6 October 2014

In an update on the site at 2pm, NEA noted that it had been hazy in the city-state since the late morning, and air quality had deteriorated hence in most regions in Singapore.

"The haziness was due to smoke haze from a nearby source in central Sumatra, being blown in by the prevailing southwesterly winds," it said.

It added that, for the rest of the day, "the current hazy conditions are expected to persist, and the overall air quality is expected to be in the high end of the Moderate range".

Haze climbs to 153; unhealthy levels set to stay tomorrow
NEA said that the overall air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the high-end of Moderate and Unhealthy range

Air quality in Singapore has plunged over the past few hours, with the latest 3-hr PSI at 7pm hitting 153, putting it in the unhealthy levels

A statement issued by the National Environment Agency (NEA) at 6pm said that PM2.5 levels are elevated in all regions of Singapore, notably in the southern parts.

The hazy conditions are expected to persist overnight to tomorrow, it added, due to the southwesterly winds blowing smoke from central Sumatra.

Health tips from the experts on getting haze-ready
Singapore experiences 'deteriorating hazy conditions'

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Singapore shrouded by Indonesian smog
Singapore suffers smog almost every year from Indonesian fires [AP]

Indonesia is preparing cloud-seeding operations in an effort to combat a haze of air pollution blanketing neighbouring Singapore.

Pollution levels were "moderate" levels on Tuesday morning, according to the pollution standard index, a day after hitting "unhealthy" levels. The worst affected parts of the island are in the west and closest to Indonesia.

The haze has become an annual event in this part of Southeast Asia, as farmers illegally burn forest or plantation areas to clear land.

Singapore experiences 'deteriorating hazy conditions'
Singapore is experiencing "deteriorating hazy conditions" due to "an incoming haze cloud from Sumatra" environment minister Vivian Balakrishnan said in a Facebook post on Sunday

Singapore is experiencing deteriorating hazy conditions due to an incoming haze cloud we have detected southwest of Singapore. Air quality is slightly elevated and there are reports of burning smells in the central and eastern regions of Singapore.

As at 7pm today, the 24-hr PSI is 53-56, in the Moderate range. The forecast for the 24-hr PSI over the next six hours is in the high end of the Moderate range.

Given the air quality forecast, normal activities can continue. NEA is monitoring the situation closely and will provide subsequent updates should the situation changes.

Singapore's PSI hits 129 at 9pm Sunday

The Singapore skies were shrouded in haze on Sunday evening (Sep 21), as the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reading crossed into the unhealthy range.

The 3-hour PSI readings hovered in the moderate range through most of the day but crept up slowly from noon and broke into the unhealthy band of 116 at 8pm. At 9pm, it stood at 129.

Shots taken at about 6.30pm from Fairmont Hotel, where Channel NewsAsia is reporting live on the Singapore Grand Prix, showed the Marina Bay area shrouded in haze. Callers to Channel NewsAsia's hotline also complained of a strong burning smell in the air.

PSI to fluctuate between ‘moderate’ and ‘unhealthy’ range: NEA
Haze seen at the F1 pit on Sept 21. Photo: Don Wong

The National Environment Agency (NEA) forecasts the island to experience slight haze as winds continue to blow from the southeast or south todat (Sept 22), in their haze advisory released to members of the public yesterday.

“We may experience occasional hazy conditions during the day. The overall air quality tomorrow is expected to fluctuate between the high-end of the Moderate range and the low-end of the Unhealthy range.”

Singapore experienced a sudden deterioration in the surrounding air quality in the late afternoon yesterday, with reports coming in from certain parts of the island of a burning smell lingering in the air.

More hazy days to come

Air quality here improved on Sept 17 due to a change in the wind direction, but don't be too happy yet. Air quality that day was moderate, an improvement from the unhealthy levels of smoke that blanketed western Singapore on Sept 15. Then, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) - a measure of air quality here - had exceeded 100 and crossed into the unhealthy range, the first time since April this year.

But in the National Environment Agency's (NEA) weather outlook for the remainder of the month, it warned that Singapore could experience occasional slight haze on a few days due to periods of consecutive dry weather in the region - characteristic of the south-west monsoon season Singapore is now experiencing.

Meanwhile, Singapore has welcomed the Indonesian parliament's move to ratify the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution - a move officials hailed as a new chapter in the country's efforts to take a stronger lead in tackling an annual problem that has irked residents in affected areas and neighbouring countries.

Overall air quality expected to stay in ‘moderate' range for next 24 hours: NEA

Occasional slight haze is expected to continue tomorrow as prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the southeast or south, says the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The weather agency said “the overall air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be in the moderate range,” in their daily haze situation report released at 5pm today (Sept 20).

For most of today, the air quality remained in the moderate range, with the 24-hour Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) recording the highest reading of 82-88 in the wee hours of the morning between 1am and 2am before slipping gradually. As of 9pm, the PSI registered 55-60 while the three-hour reading registered 55. Air quality is in the moderate range when the PSI value is between 51 and 100, and is considered unhealthy when the PSI value is between 101 and 200.

The week in review: Of rising haze & easing tensions

Much of Sumatra and Kalimantan has been hazy because of smog that has gone from bad to worse. The seasonal wild fires resulting from illegal forest clearing sites and smoldering peatland have seen smoke drift to the neighboring countries of Singapore and Malaysia.

Indonesia is living up to the “smoke exporting country” tag. The tiny neighbor, Singapore, has begun complaining about the choking smoke that disrupts business and poses health hazards. Along with Malaysia, it urged Indonesia to do more to put out the fires that occur during every other dry spell.

On Wednesday, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) reported that its Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) had reached an unhealthy level of 102 in the evening. A PSI reading above 100 is categorized as “unhealthy”, while 50-99 is “moderate”.

Law enforcement key to curbing Indonesia forest fires
A boat passes next to the Ampera bridge as thick haze blankets in Palembang. Indonesia's parliament agreed to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in the west of the country, choking neighbouring Singapore with hazardous smog

In a bid to combat the rampant forest fires on the islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan, the government is planning to strengthen its law enforcement following the country's decision to ratify a decade-old regional haze treaty.

Presidential Working Unit for the Supervision and Management of Development (UKP4) said on Friday that the unit was planning to do so by several means, such as closely monitoring all government units.

"We will intensify law enforcement to show that we are capable. The 13 action plans [on forest fires eradication that had been formulated by the government] will be constantly monitored by the UKP4," Mas Achmad Santosa, the deputy of law enforcement in the UKP4, told The Jakarta Post.

Does Indonesian Approval of the Anti-Haze Treaty Matter?
This picture, taken in Ogan Ilir on Sept. 11, shows an Indonesian firefighter walking on farm land where fire was raging in South Sumatra. Agence France-Presse/Getty Images

Indonesia’s adoption of a regional anti-haze treaty - 12 years after it first signed the document - is a welcome but largely symbolic move, environmentalists say.

Ratification of the pact is “an open political gesture” by Indonesia to work with neighboring countries to fight haze pollution, said Nyoman Iswarayoga from environmental organization WWF Indonesia. But because the treaty does not define specific technical issues but rather the framework for cooperation, more is needed to determine how those countries will work to exchange expertise, information and resources to mitigate haze cases, he said.

“The strategic importance of the ratification lies in the willingness of Indonesia to join a regional mechanism to address the issue,” said Andika Putraditama, a Jakarta-based advocate for World Resources Institute, a research organization that has worked with the Indonesian government to increase fires monitoring and mitigation.

Govt complains to Indonesia over rise in hotspots

The Government has written formally to Indonesia to express concerns over the increase in hotspots in south Sumatra and Kalimantan that had led to haze over Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the Department of Environment director-general had written to his Indonesian counterpart on Sept 15.

“Malaysia has urged Indonesian authorities to carry out preventive measures and extinguish fires, which have resulted in trans-boundary haze,” he said in a statement here yesterday.

Indonesia to ratify Asean haze deal as API rises in Malaysia, Singapore
Commuters travel along a road as thick haze blankets Pekanbaru on Sept 16, 2014. Indonesia's parliament on Sept 16 agreed to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in the west of the country. - AFP

Indonesia's parliament on Tuesday voted to ratify a regional agreement on cross-border haze as fires ripped through forests in west of the country, according to the AFP. 

Haze conditions were reported mostly in the south of Peninsular Malaysia, mirroring the situation in Sarawak and Sabah. Areas like Sri Aman in Sarawak recorded an air quality index (API) of 99 at 8am on Tuesday. According to satellite imagery, the hotspot count was a staggering 673 on Borneo island.

Officials in Singapore and Malaysia have responded furiously to Indonesian forest fires, which have intensified and become more frequent in recent years.

Thick haze forces flights to be axed in Indonesia
A helicopter operated by Indonesia's disaster mitigation agency conducting water bombing in Ogan Ilir, South Sumatra, yesterday. -- PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Thick haze forced flights to be delayed, diverted or cancelled altogether at several airports in places such as Jambi and Palembang in Sumatra and Palangkaraya in Kalimantan yesterday, as visibility levels dropped below the 1km threshold for safe landings.

Officials in some affected provinces discussed measures including school closures if conditions worsen and the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) exceeds 200.

In Kandis, Riau province, the PSI hit 435, as the haze reached as far north-west as Banda Aceh and Medan, some 600km away.

What Singaporeans Think About Haze From Indonesia

The haze from Indonesia is back in Singapore — and people are not too happy about it. The advent of the haze caused by fires set largely for land clearing is an annual event in the city-state.

Last year the pollution reached hazardous levels, sending Singaporeans scrambling to buy face masks and home air filters. This year air pollution in Singapore reached “unhealthy” levels earlier this week — since mid-September online searches for haze-related terms have spiked, according to Google data.

The haze arrived the same day Indonesia voted to ratify a regional agreement on air pollution that requires signatories to work together to prevent the clearing of land using fire. The Wall Street Journal asked people in the city-state how the haze was affecting their lives.

142 hotspots detected in Kalimantan, Sumatra on Friday: NEA

The overall air quality for Saturday (Sep 20) is expected to be in the "moderate" range, even as 142 hotspots were detected in Indonesia's Sumatra and Kalimantan on Friday.

According to an advisory by the National Environment Agency (NEA) on Saturday, there were 44 hotspots in Sumatra and 98 hotspots in Kalimantan on Friday, which caused the haze experienced in the city-state. Air quality improved overnight though, helped by showers and a change in wind direction in some parts of the region.

It added that prevailing winds are expected to blow from the southeast or south, and showers are expected Saturday afternoon.There may be occasional slight haze experienced, but overall air quality is expected to be in the "moderate" range. As of 4pm, the three-hour PSI reading is at 60, while the 24-hour PSI reading ranges between 60 and 63, NEA data showed.

Singapore writes to Indonesia to express concern over haze
Teban Gardens is shrouded by haze on Thursday, Sept 18, 2014. Air quality in the Republic has worsened, prompting authorities to write to Indonesia expressing "deep concern" over the situation. -- ST PHOTO: ONG WEE JIN

Air quality in the Republic has worsened, prompting authorities to write to Indonesia expressing "deep concern" over the situation.

A thin veil of grey hung over most areas of Singapore on Friday while the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) - a measure of air quality here - hovered between the high end of the moderate range and the low end of the unhealthy band from the early hours.

At 2pm, the 24-hour PSI across Singapore was in the range of 95 to 103. A reading above 100 refers to unhealthy air quality, in which prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical activity should be reduced.

Penang still blanketed by haze
A group of men fishing amid the thick blanket of haze at Gurney Drive

Penang remained shrouded in haze, with Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at the "moderate" level at the three stations in the state.

A check with the Department of Environment website showed that the reading at the Seberang Jaya 2 station improved slightly from 74 at 6am yesterday to 71 at 3pm.

The reading at the Prai station, however, worsened from 63 at 6am yesterday to 71 in the afternoon, with the USM station reading registering 79.