Led by NEA and comprised of 28 government agencies, the Government’s Haze Task Force (HTF) is all set to deal with the ill-effects of the haze on the general public.
Different strategies have been laid down to provide varied responses to different levels and intensities of the haze situation. The response will be based on the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) readings and forecasts.
According to NEA authorities, the agencies comprising the task force have carried out plans and advisories to protect the overall well-being of the public, particularly vulnerable groups like the elderly, pregnant women, children and people with chronic lung and heart diseases.
Five bands on PSI scale
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.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) directs all healtcare institutions like public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes to create and carry out different approaches in handling haze and all haze-related issues. These include the use of air purifiers, fans, and portable air coolers.
The NEA and MOH, which have been working with retailers since April, released additional stocks of N95 to shops and the NEA said there are sufficient stocks of the mask in the warehouses and government stockpiles.
Likewise, the Early Childhood Development Agency is requiring 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 within the unhealthy range.
All classrooms in primary and secondary schools, MOE Kindergartens and special education schools have been equipped with air purifiers.
The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) has directed all 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 within the unhealthy range.
Meanwhile, the Singapore Contractors Association advises construction firms to monitor the haze condition and conduct risk assessment activities on outdoor work should the haze intensify.
On the other hand, 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.”
The Land Transport Authority is using the Expressway Advisory Monitoring System electronic sign boards 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 public are advised to take the necessary precaution to ensure personal safety.
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 1-hour PM2.5 concentration readings cross into the high band.
All these government units are standing ready to keep Singapore safe and secure. -/TISG