Singapore — Haze yesterday evening shrouded the islands skyline, when it was meant to provide a picturesque backdrop to the Singapore Grand Prix watched by millions around the globe.
Visibility started falling in the afternoon, though the three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) remained within the good and moderate ranges. However, between 7pm and 8pm, the three-hour PSI reading deteriorated sharply into the unhealthy range spiking from 89 to 116.
At 9pm, the three-hour PSI reading hit a high of 129.
Writing on Facebook in the evening, Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan said the situation was due to an incoming haze cloud from Sumatra.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the Republic had been experiencing deteriorating hazy conditions since the late afternoon yesterday, with elevated levels of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5.
The haze was caused by smoke haze blown in from Sumatra by the prevailing winds, the NEA said, adding that intermittent haziness was expected to persist overnight. The 24-hour PSI overnight was expected to be in the high end of the moderate range.
The total number of hot spots detected yesterday in Sumatra and Kalimantan was 64 and 73, respectively. They were mostly in the southern parts of Sumatra and Kalimantan. Widespread smoke haze was visible in southern Kalimantan. The Star Online reported that the Malaysian government had formally written to its Indonesian counterpart to express concerns about the rise in the number of hot spots in south Sumatra and Kalimantan, which had led to haze over Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak.
The NEA has forecast occasional hazy conditions during the day today. The overall air quality is expected to fluctuate between the high end of the moderate range and the low end of the unhealthy range. It advised healthy people to reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion.
The agency added that those who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and people with chronic heart or lung conditions should seek medical attention.