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  Today Online 28 Aug 06
Haze seems worse ... ... but PSI reading indicates 'good' air quality
Christie Loh christie@newstoday.com.sg

HOT, grey air covered parts of the island yesterday, prompting many Singaporeans to complain about the smell of smoke in the air and the worsening haze.

Yet, according to the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), the air quality was "good", averaging a reading of 50 over the 24 hours up until 4pm. A PSI reading of between 51 and 100 indicates "moderate" air quality with few or no effects on health, while a reading above 101 marks an "unhealthy" level.

To asthmatic Alphonsus Tay, 22, the past week--which saw the PSI hitting a high of 53 the previous Saturday--was especially torturous. The gaming and animation student, who lives in Yishun, had to take medicine to alleviate his shortness of breath. "I avoid going out now. I'm staying indoors and turning on the air conditioner a lot more," Mr Tay told Today over the phone.

The good news? There should be an improvement today as the winds change direction, a National Environment Agency (NEA) spokeswoman said.

Yesterday, a grey veil shrouded the Marina Bay area, while a resident in Bishan said the air was hot, dry and had a faint burning smell. The air quality in northern Singapore was the worst, followed by the central, western and southern parts. The lowest PSI reading of 42 was in the east.

Punggol resident Faith Toh was unsure if the haze was coming from Indonesia or from the Seventh Month's burning activities. This time every year, some farmers in Sumatra and Borneo start illegal brush fires to clear the land in preparation for the planting season.

Said the NEA spokeswoman: "It's slightly hazy because the winds have changed to the south-westerly direction. That has brought in some of the smoke haze from Sumatra."

She added that overall, this year's haze situation was unlikely to be as bad as that of 1997--when the PSI hit a record high of 226. Then, over 12 consecutive days when the reading hovered at 100, many suffered from sore eyes, skin irritations and acute respiratory tract infections.

Related articles on Singapore: Haze
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