Thailand — As thick smoke from forest fires and slash-and-burn farmingcloaks Thailand in its worst haze in 14 years. Singapore, too, has not beenspared.
The Republic experienced a slightly hazy start to the week, with the overall PSIjust falling out of the “good” range.
At 7pm yesterday, the PSI reading went into the “moderate” range for areading of 52 the highest level in March.
It was the third consecutive day of slightly hazy conditions, with the 24-hourPSI ranging from 42 to 44 over the weekend. On Sunday, the smell of smoke couldbe detected in areas like Orchard Road and Toa Payoh.
According to the National Environment Agency (NEA), “smoke haze particles”from fires in the northern Asean region are being carried over by mild winds,contributing to hazy conditions.
“The weakening winds, which is typical during the transition from thenorth-east monsoon to the inter-monsoon during this period, has not helped indispersing the smoke haze particles,” said an NEA spokesperson.
Over in northern Thailand, the choking haze has disrupted air travel, and healthwarnings have been issued advising children and the elderly to remain indoors oruse masks. Even healthy adults have been asked to cease all exercise outdoors.
Experts believe that the extended winter is trapping smoke close to the coldground and preventing it from dissipating into the atmosphere. The cold is alsopushing the smoke down into low-lying areas. The haze has affected some fivemillion people in Chiang Mai and parts of Laos and Myanmar. Media reports saidthat more than 13,000 have sought medical treatment for haze-related illness.
But here in Singapore, some did not even notice the hazy weather although itstill made its presence felt. Asthmatic Chris Dubberke, 27, had some difficultybreathing yesterday and had to use his inhaler pump, but did not realise thecause was the haze.
But still, he does not foresee a return of last October’s haze where PSIlevels hit 136, a record high for the year. “It’s not the first timeSingapore has experienced the haze, so every time there are reports of haze Itake the necessary precautions,” said the psychology student.