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New hourly haze updates available on the NEA's website

Thursday, Apr 25, 2013
The Straits Times
By Feng Zengkun

Photo above: A couple looks over the city skyline under haze from a bridge in Singapore on Friday, April 19, 2013.

SINGAPORE - Hourly updates on the haze in Singapore are now available on the National Environment Agency's website.

Air quality here remained healthy as of Tuesday, but the agency said the new updates would provide people with more timely information "given the recent forest fires in Sumatra, Indonesia over the past few days".

The NEA has said that prevailing winds could blow smoke plumes from hot spots or fires from Indonesia towards Singapore, causing haze here.

On Tuesday, it said that showers in the region over the next few days could reduce the number of fires in Indonesia, but warned that "brief, slight haziness" could still occur in Singapore.

The hourly-updated Pollutant Standards Index hovered in the 40s throughout Tuesday, in the "good" range but higher than the usual range of 10s to 30s. Air becomes unhealthy only when the index passes 100.

The new hourly updates from 7am to 7pm are three-hourly averages. This means that a 3pm update, for example, was averaged from readings taken at 1pm, 2pm and 3pm.

These updates provide a more accurate picture of the situation at any time than the NEA's usual readings, which are averages of the previous 24 hours.

According to the Meteorological Service Singapore website, the number of hot spots in Sumatra rose from zero on Sunday to about 30 on Tuesday.

The annual haze in Singapore usually occurs later, when farmers and logging companies in Indonesia clear land using fire in the country's dry season between June and September.

But Indonesian news reports in March quoted a government spokesman as saying that this year's dry season could begin as early as April.

People with lung or heart conditions, children and the elderly should reduce or avoid strenuous outdoor exercise when there is haze, the NEA has said.

To get haze updates, visit http://www.nea.gov.sg/psi/


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