Singapore shrouded in Indonesian haze

Forest fires in Indonesia made air pollution levels in Singapore reach an annual high on October 2

By Aditya Misra
Published: Wednesday 08 October 2014

Haze at Marina Singapore in July 2013. Singapore and Malaysia are smothered in haze from Indonesian forests every year, fires last year caused the region’s worst pollution crisis in a decade (Photo by Brian Jeffery Beggerly)

Air pollution levels in Singapore reached the highest levels this year on October 7 due to a haze caused by fires in forests in Indonesia.

The fires are an annual feature and a major irritant in relations between the two countries. Most of the times, they are lighted illegally for clearing land to grow crops.

According to a report published in the Wall Street Journal, Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) said that at 10 am local time on October 7, the pollutant standards index (PSI) hovered between 107 and 125 in different parts of the island nation. Any level between 101 and 200 is defined as “unhealthy” by NEA, says the report.

NEA forecast for October 9 says that “thundery showers in the afternoon” are likely but hazy conditions can continue.

“The prevailing winds are forecast to vary between southeasterly and southwesterly. Hazy conditions can be expected. The overall air quality for the next 24 hours is expected to be mainly in the high-end of Moderate range and low-end of the Unhealthy range,” the forecast says. NEA has also advised people to reduce “outdoor activities and physical exertion” in order to “help limit the ill effects from haze exposure”.

Indonesia has been trying to deal with the problem for some time. On September 16, the parliament of Indonesia ratified the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution it had signed 12 years ago. The agreement requires the country to dedicate more resources to deal with the problem and make its policies on forest fires more stringent.

Committed carbon emissions, deforestation, and community land conversion from oil palm plantation expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia

The impact of surface fires on peatland in the land preparation area belong to the community

The global impact of Indonesian forest fires

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