Government agencies ready to tackle impact of haze: NEA

18-Sep-2019 Intellasia | StraitsTimes | 6:02 AM Print This Post

Government agencies are ready to tackle the impact of the haze, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a statement on Tuesday (September 17).

The government’s Haze Task Force (HTF), which is led by NEA and comprises 28 government agencies, stands ready to “minimise and manage the impact of haze on the public”, NEA said on behalf of the task force.

The government agencies in the task force have plans in place that allow tiered responses depending on the intensity of the haze, which is based on the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings and forecasts.

The NEA said that agencies have implemented plans and advisories to protect the health and well-being of the publicespecially vulnerable groups such as the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with chronic lung and heart diseasessince the PSI in the western part of Singapore entered the “unhealthy” range last Saturday.

A PSI reading of 101 to 200 is in the unhealthy range, for which the NEA advises the public to cut down on outdoor activities.

The PSI reading was between 85 and 93, within the moderate range, at 11am on Tuesday.

The one-hour PM2.5 reading ranged between 32 micrograms per cubic m in the central part of the island and 75 micrograms per cubic m in the eastern part, within the normal and elevated bands.

The PM2.5 concentration, which the NEA said is a better indicator of current air quality, measures the concentration of tiny particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter. There are four bands on the PM2.5 concentration scale: 0 to 55 for normal, 56 to 150 for elevated, 151 to 250 for high, and very high for readings above 250.

The five bands on the PSI scale are: 0 to 50 for good, 51 to 100 for moderate, 101 to 200 for unhealthy, 201 to 300 for very unhealthy, and hazardous for readings above 300.

The task force, which was formed in 1994, meets in May every year at the start of the dry season to discuss the weather and haze situation, and to update its plans.

“The HTF will continue to monitor the situation closely. HTF agencies will provide further advisories should the haze situation deteriorate,” the NEA said.

MEASURES BY VARIOUS AGENCIES

The Ministry of Health (MOH) has reminded healthcare institutions, including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes, to put in place measures to combat the haze. These include the use of air purifiers, fans and portable air coolers.

The NEA and MOH, which have been working with retailers since April, pushed out additional stocks of N95 to shops last Friday and on Sunday. The NEA said there are sufficient stocks of the mask in the warehouses and government stockpiles.

Meanwhile, the Early Childhood Development Agency requires pre-schools to monitor air quality levels and comply with health advisories. All pre-schools also have at least one air-conditioned room with an air purifier to temporarily accommodate children who might become unwell or develop respiratory problems. Outdoor activities will be minimised when the air quality is in the unhealthy range.

All classrooms in primary and secondary schools, Education Ministry kindergartens and special education schools have been equipped with air purifiers.

The Ministry of Manpower has reminded employers to reduce prolonged or strenuous work for healthy employees, and minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for elderly or pregnant employees, if the 24-hour PSI is in the unhealthy range.

In a separate news release on Tuesday, the Singapore Contractors Association said it is advising construction firms to monitor the haze condition and take steps, such as conducting risk assessment on outdoor work, should the haze worsen.

The NEA said that the Singapore Armed Forces and the Home Team departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs are “calibrating the training and outdoor activities of their personnel according to the air quality”.

“All units stand ready to keep Singapore safe and secure,” it added.

The Land Transport Authority is using the Expressway Monitoring Advisory System electronic signboards to remind motorists to drive with care and switch on headlights when visibility is low.

The Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth has reminded organisers of sports activities to monitor the air quality and follow health advisories. While outdoor and indoor sports facilities might remain open, members of the public are advised to take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety.

The People’s Association is keeping air-conditioned rooms in the Residents’ Committee centres and community clubs open for those who want to seek respite from the haze, if the one-hour PM2.5 concentration readings cross into the high band.

https://www.straitstimes.com/singapore/government-agencies-ready-to-tackle-the-impact-of-haze-nea

 


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