June 17, 2013

Singapore hit by haze from Indonesia forest fires

SINGAPORE : Singapore was shrouded in a smoky-smelling haze on Monday as pollution from forest fires in Indonesia’s Sumatra island spread to neighbouring countries.

 Singapore hit by haze from Indonesia forest fires

The Pollutant Standards Index reading at noon stood at 80, in the higher  range of the “moderate” band, according to the National Environment Agency  (NEA) website. Any reading above 100 is considered unhealthy.   

The haze was visible at street level in Singapore’s central business  district but has so far not affected business or air transport. Singapore  schools are on holiday.   

People with heart and lung disease, those over 65 and children are advised  to “reduce prolonged or heavy outdoor exertion” even in moderate conditions.   

“The hazy conditions are expected to persist for the next few days,” the  NEA said.   

Malaysia has also been affected by the recurring haze problem, which occurs  in the dry season as a result of forest fires in the sprawling Indonesian  archipelago, some of them deliberately started to clear land for cultivation.   

Haze reached unhealthy levels in Malaysia over the weekend.   

On Monday, the Malaysian pollutant index showed unhealthy levels of between  102 and 121 in parts of the states of Pahang, Terengganu and Malacca.   

In the capital Kuala Lumpur, the sky remained hazy with a reading of 82.   

Southeast Asia’s haze problem hit its worst level in 1997-1998, causing  widespread health problems and costing the regional economy billions of dollars  as a result of business and air transport disruptions.-- AFP