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Singapore Government Agencies Implement Measures To Mitigate Impact Of Haze (7 October 2023)

07 Oct 2023

Singapore, 07 October 2023 – The 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) had first entered the Unhealthy range (i.e. 24hr PSI >100) at 7am this morning in the east region. This was followed by the central region entering the Unhealthy range at 11am.

2          The Government’s interagency Haze Task Force (HTF) led by the National Environment Agency (NEA) convened this morning. HTF agencies have rolled out their respective action plans and advisories for the protection of the health and well-being of the public. NEA will begin providing daily haze advisories from this evening, and will include the 24-hour PSI forecast, which can be used by the public in planning their activities and events for the next 24 hours.

 Health Advisory

 3          The health impact of haze is dependent on individuals’ health status, the PSI level, and the duration and intensity of outdoor activity. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help limit the ill effects from haze exposure. The public is advised to drink plenty of water to stay hydrated. Those with chronic heart and lung conditions should ensure that medications are on hand and readily accessible. Vulnerable persons, especially the elderly, pregnant women, children, and those with chronic heart and lung conditions, who develop symptoms or feel unwell, should seek medical attention promptly.

4          Current air quality readings and advisories to protect the health and well-being of the public, especially vulnerable persons such as the elderly, pregnant women, children and those with chronic lung and heart diseases are available on www.haze.gov.sg, www.nea.gov.sg and the myENV app.

5          The Ministry of Health (MOH) has worked with our healthcare institutions (including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes) to put in place haze preparedness measures to deal with any increase in the number of patients with haze-related medical conditions. These measures include using air purifiers and fans, and reducing ambient temperature by deploying portable air coolers where appropriate. Our public healthcare institutions are also monitoring patients closely for possible health effects of the haze and will institute appropriate medical intervention where necessary.

6          N95 masks are not required for short exposure, like commuting from home to school or work, or in an indoor environment. In general, a healthy individual who has to be outdoors for several hours may wear an N95 mask to reduce exposure when the forecasted air quality is in the Hazardous range (PSI >300). Vulnerable persons are advised to avoid or minimise outdoor activity when the forecasted air quality is Very Unhealthy (PSI >200). If they have to be outdoors for several hours, they may reduce exposure by wearing an N95 mask. The elderly, pregnant women and those with severe lung or heart problems who have difficulty breathing at rest or on exertion should consult their doctors on whether they should use the N95 mask. For more information on N95 masks please visit: https://www.moh.gov.sg/resources-statistics/educational-resources/haze/faqs-on-haze-health-advisory

Advice for Pre-schools

 7          The Early Childhood Development Agency (ECDA) has advised preschools to monitor the air quality levels and comply with the corresponding health advisories. Preschools will minimise prolonged outdoor activities and strenuous indoor physical activities for children when the air quality is in the Unhealthy range. Children with underlying chronic heart and lung conditions will be exempted from physical and outdoor activities.

8          To safeguard the general well-being of the children, all preschools are equipped with air purifiers. Preschools have at least one enclosed room with air purifier(s) turned on to temporarily accommodate children who may become unwell or develop respiratory problems due to the impact of haze. Preschools will monitor closely the health of all children.  If a child is feeling unwell, the parents should pick up their child as soon as possible and seek medical attention.

Ensuring the Well-Being of Students in Schools

9          The Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools have in place a school continuity plan to ensure the well-being of students and staff during a haze situation. Schools are ready to respond and take appropriate haze management measures, taking reference from NEA’s readings.

10        All classrooms of primary and secondary schools, MOE Kindergartens and Special Education schools have been equipped with air purifiers to enhance the well-being of students during a haze situation. Teachers will also be on the lookout for students who are unwell or have pre-existing lung or heart conditions. Parents should ensure that their children have their medication, such as inhalers for asthma, with them, if required and take their children to seek medical attention if they are unwell or exhibit respiratory problems due to haze. For more information on schools’ haze management plans, refer to https://www.moe.gov.sg/about-us/emergency-preparedness/haze-management.

11        While schools remain open and national examinations proceed as scheduled, schools have made arrangements for all candidates to take their papers in enclosed spaces with air purifiers if the air quality is in the Unhealthy range or worse during the examination. Should there be a school closure, national examinations will be rescheduled. School candidates will be informed via their schools. Private candidates will be informed via the Singapore Examinations and Assessment Board (SEAB).

Advice for Workplaces

 12        The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) reminds employers to follow MOM’s haze guidelines and tripartite advisories (www.mom.gov.sg/haze) and take the necessary measures to prepare their companies and workforce to minimise or mitigate the impact of haze effects. When the 24-hour PSI is in the Unhealthy range, all workplaces are urged to take the following risk mitigating measures:

  • Reducing the duration of prolonged or strenuous work for healthy employees. 
  • Minimising prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for vulnerable workers, especially the elderly and pregnant women. 
  • Avoiding prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for workers with chronic heart and lung conditions
  • Using mechanical aids, implementing job rotation, scheduling indoor rest breaks and ensuring adequate hydration etc.
  • Providing suitable protective equipment, considering pollutants present in the work environment.

Safeguarding Singapore

 13        The Singapore Armed Forces (SAF) under the Ministry of Defence and the Home Team Departments under the Ministry of Home Affairs are well equipped and will continue to safeguard Singapore’s peace and security amid the haze situation. Based on the 24-hour PSI level, we have calibrated the level and intensity of training and outdoor activities, as well as taken precautionary measures to ensure the health and safety of all service personnel.

Advice for Motorists

 14        In addition to implementing haze mitigation measures for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operators’ employees, the LTA has also alerted motorists to drive with care and switch on headlights when visibility is low through the Expressway Monitoring and Advisory System (EMAS) electronic signboards.

Sporting Activities

 15        Sport Singapore has advised all participants and organisers of sports activities to monitor the air quality and follow the health advisories issued by the relevant agencies. Event organisers should conduct their own risk management with due consideration of the health advisories when deciding whether to proceed with sports activities. While outdoor and indoor sports facilities may remain open, members of public are advised to take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety. For information on sport safety and haze management, refer to: https://www.sportsingapore.gov.sg/sports-education/sports-safety/haze-management-at-sport-singapore/

Community Activities

16        Community activities organised by the People’s Association and its grassroots organisations will be guided by the 24-hour PSI forecast issued by NEA and the accompanying health advisory. Air-conditioned rooms in all Community Centres/Clubs (CC) and selected Residents’ Committee (RC) Centres/Residents’ Network (RN) Centres will be on standby for members of the public who want to seek respite from the haze, should the 24-hour PSI reading cross into the ‘Very Unhealthy’ level (PSI >200). Residents may contact their nearest CCs or refer to RC/RN Notice Boards for more information on these locations.

17        The HTF will continue to monitor the situation closely to minimise the impact of haze on the public. HTF agencies will provide further advisories should the haze situation deteriorate.

 

Issued on behalf of agencies in the Haze Task Force

 

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