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Singapore Government Agencies Stand Ready To Mitigate Impact Of Haze

29 Sep 2023

Singapore, 29 September 2023 – As of 29 September 2023, 3pm, the 24-hr Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is 81 (Moderate range) in the East region of Singapore. Accordingly, the 28 public agencies that make up the Government’s Haze Task Force (HTF), are ready to roll out their respective haze action plans should the air quality deteriorate into the Unhealthy range (24-hour PSI above 100).  

2          There has been an increase in the number of hotspots over Sumatra in the past few days, with 241 and 145 hotspots detected on 27 and 28 September 2023 respectively. Moderate to dense smoke haze was observed over parts of south and central Sumatra. The winds in our nearby region are expected to continue blowing from the southeast and keep the dense haze away from Singapore. While Singapore is not expected to experience severe haze in the coming days, the PSI may deteriorate if there is a shift in wind direction.

3          Current air quality readings and advisories to protect the health and well-being of the public, especially the more vulnerable groups 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.

4          The public should refer to the current 1-hour PM2.5 concentration as an indicator of current air quality, and to refer to the associated 1-hour PM2.5  personal guide, when planning their strenuous or outdoor activities over the next few hours. The 1-hour PM2.5 concentration level can be volatile and fluctuate over the day due to weather conditions, especially during periods of transboundary haze.

5          The health impact of haze on an individual is dependent on his or her health status, the 24-hour PSI level, and the duration and intensity of outdoor activities. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help reduce ill effects from haze exposure. Drink water to stay hydrated. Those with chronic heart and lung conditions should ensure that medication is on hand or readily available. Vulnerable persons, including the elderly, pregnant women, children, and those with chronic heart and lung conditions, who develop symptoms or feel unwell, should seek medical attention promptly. More practical tips for households to reduce exposure to haze can be found here.

6          NEA will continue to closely monitor the haze situation and provide further updates if the situation changes. Should the 24-hour PSI be anticipated to enter the Unhealthy range, NEA will provide daily haze advisories. The daily haze advisory includes the 24-hour PSI forecast, which can be used by the public in planning their activities and events the next day.

Government Haze Task Force

7          The HTF, which is chaired by NEA, develops and implements action plans to minimise and manage the impact of haze on Singapore. HTF member agencies have robust action plans in place, allowing tiered responses depending on the intensity of the haze, which are based on the air quality readings and forecasts.

8          The HTF convenes annually before the start of the dry season to update its plans. The HTF convened in April this year to prepare for the dry season, which began in June. Refer to Annex A for the list of HTF members. For more details of the HTF’s action plans for mitigating the impact of haze, please refer to Annex B.

Issued on behalf of agencies in the Haze Task Force

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For more information, please submit your enquiries electronically via the Online Feedback Form or myENV mobile application.

Annex A

List of Haze Task Force Member Agencies

The Haze Task Force (HTF) was formed in September 1994 and is part of a coordinated effort across the whole of government. The HTF comprises representatives from 28 government agencies.

S/N

Agency

1

Ministry of Communications and Information

2

Ministry of Culture, Community and Youth

3

Ministry of Defence

4

Ministry of Education

5

Ministry of Foreign Affairs

6

Ministry of Health

7

Ministry of Home Affairs

8

Ministry of Manpower

9

Ministry of National Development

10

Ministry of Social and Family Development

11

Ministry of Sustainability and the Environment

12

Ministry of Trade and Industry

13

Ministry of Transport

14

Building and Construction Authority

15

Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore

16

Energy Market Authority

17

Government Technology Agency (GovTech)

18

Land Transport Authority

19

Maritime and Port Authority of Singapore

20

National Environment Agency (Chair)

21

People’s Association

22

Public Service Division

23

PUB, Singapore’s National Water Agency

24

Singapore Civil Defence Force

25

Singapore Food Agency

26

Singapore Police Force

27

Sport Singapore

28

Singapore Tourism Board


Annex B

HTF Member Agencies’ Action Plans

Advice on Mask-wearing for the Public

1               Generally, N95 masks are not required for short periods of exposure, such as commuting from home to school or work, or in an indoor environment. However, a healthy individual who has to be outdoors for several hours may wear a N95 mask (or equivalent [1])  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 can reduce exposure to haze particles by wearing a N95 mask. The elderly, pregnant women and persons with lung or heart problems who have difficulty breathing at rest or on exertion should consult their doctor on whether they should use the N95 mask.

2               We would like to assure the public that there are sufficient stocks of N95 masks in the warehouses and in government stockpiles.

Advice for Health Sector

3               The Ministry of Health has worked with healthcare institutions (including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes) to put in place haze preparedness measures and prepare for any increase in the number of cases of haze-related 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.

4               Community care providers offering residential and centre-based services to seniors should provide indoor shelter for staff and residents/clients as well as minimise or avoid activities with prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion when the forecasted air quality is in the Unhealthy range (PSI > 100). Outdoor activities should cease or be replaced with indoor activities when the forecasted air quality reaches the Very Unhealthy range (PSI > 200).

5               Healthcare institutions and community care providers will use the forecasted 24-hour PSI for forward planning, but may adjust these plans as appropriate based on the 1-hour PM2.5 readings. 

Advice for Preschools

6               The Early Childhood Development Agency requires preschools to monitor the air quality levels and comply with the corresponding health advisories. Preschools should minimise prolonged outdoor activities and strenuous indoor physical exercise and activities for children when the air quality is in the Unhealthy range (PSI > 100). During such times, children with underlying chronic heart and lung conditions should not participate in physical exercise, even when indoors.

7          To safeguard the general well-being of the children, all preschools are equipped with air purifiers and should 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 haze. The health of all children should be monitored closely. Should any child exhibit respiratory problems or feel unwell, the preschool should allow the child to rest in an enclosed room with air purifier(s) turned on and inform the parents to pick up their child as soon as possible to seek medical attention for the child.

Ensuring the Well-Being of Students in Schools

8          The Ministry of Education (MOE) and schools are prepared to respond and take appropriate haze management measures to ensure the well-being of students and staff, taking reference from NEA’s readings. Schools will continue to use the 24-hour PSI forecast for forward planning, but will adjust these plans as appropriate based on the 1-hour PM2.5 readings. 

9          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 be on the lookout for students who are unwell or have pre-existing lung or heart conditions. Parents should ensure 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.

Advice for Employers

10        The Ministry of Manpower reminds employers to implement necessary precautions and measures (www.mom.gov.sg/haze) to ensure the health and safety of their workers at the workplace in the event that the 24-hour PSI reaches the Unhealthy range (PSI>100). The updated measures include:

  • Reducing prolonged or strenuous work for healthy employees
  • Minimising prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for elderly or pregnant employees
  • Avoiding prolonged or strenuous outdoor work for employees with chronic lung or heart disease
  • Taking risk mitigating measures such as use of mechanical aids, job rotation, instituting indoor rest breaks and ensuring adequate hydration etc.

Safeguarding Singapore

11        The Singapore Armed Forces 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 forecast, 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 and Commuters

12        Beyond implementing haze mitigation measures for the Land Transport Authority (LTA) and public transport operators’ employees, the LTA has also reminded motorists of the safety precautions they should take and how commuters can keep up-to-date with information pertaining to any affected public transport service. Through the Expressway Monitoring and Advisory Systems, motorists are reminded to drive with care and switch on their headlights when visibility is low. Commuters will be informed of any train or bus service which has been affected through the MyTransport.SG mobile application as well as other platforms such as LTA’s Facebook and Twitter pages.

Sporting Activities

13        Sport Singapore advises all participants and organisers of sports activities to monitor the air quality and follow the corresponding health advisories. 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 monitor the air quality and take necessary precautions to ensure personal safety when exercising outdoors. In general, exercising outdoors should be reduced when air quality is unhealthy.

  • Elderly or pregnant persons and persons suffering from chronic lung disease / heart disease, should avoid outdoor exposure.
  • Persons who are not feeling well should stop all sport activities and seek medical attention.
  • Members of public can continue keeping fit indoors with online resources available at https://www.activesgcircle.gov.sg/watch/lifestyle.
  • ActiveSG members may contact their nearest Sport Centre or refer to advisory posters put up during this period at the Sport Centre and the ActiveSG Circle website at https://www.activesgcircle.gov.sg/ for more information.

Community Activities

14        All community activities will be guided by the 24-hour PSI forecast issued by NEA and the accompanying health advisory. Members of the public may wish to remain indoors during periods of haze. Air-conditioned rooms in most of the Residents’ Committee (RC) Centres and Community Centres/Clubs (CCs) will be available for members of the public who want to seek respite from the haze, should the 24-hour PSI cross into the Very Unhealthy range (PSI > 200). Residents may contact their nearest CCs or refer to RC Notice Boards for more information on the nearest available RCs/CCs.

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[1] Masks with similar filtration capability, for example, the KF94 and KN95 masks


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