Singapore—The National Environment Agency (NEA) said on September 10, Tuesday, that if the haze in Sumatra worsens, it is possible that the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in the country may enter the unhealthy range.

By 8:00 on the evening of September 10, the 24-hour PSI was still in the moderate range, which is between 85 and 96. Should PSI readings reach between 101 and 200, this is considered to be the unhealthy range.

In its latest news advisory, the NEA said that “Overall, the PSI for the next 24 hours is forecast to be in the high end of the Moderate range. Depending on wind conditions, the PSI may enter the Unhealthy range if the haze situation in Sumatra persists or worsens.”

Within the statement was a health advisory, which said:Given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, healthy persons should reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention.”

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The number of hotspots in Sumatra have continued to rise. On Monday, there were 380 hotspots detected, whereas there were already 537 on the following day. The NEA said, “Moderate to dense smoke haze continued to emanate from persistent hotspots in Riau and Jambi provinces.”

In Kalimantan, 749 additional hotspots have been identified as well.

All in all, 5,062 fire hot spots have been detected in six of Indonesia’s provinces as of the morning of September 11, Wednesday.

Sumatra and Kalimantan have endured numerous forest fires over the last weeks, which thousands Indonesian police and military have been endeavouring to put out.

In Sumatra, people have been fervently praying for rain to stop the fires. According to deputy provincial governor Edy Nasution, “We’re doing everything we can, now we pray to Allah for the rain.”

Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo said in August that he would fire officials if they are unable to extinguish the fires.

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Smoke from the forest fires has affected neighboring countries, which may now include the Philippines, as areas in its Palawan province are now reporting haze.

Many of these fires were started due to farmers clearing their lands in order to make room for palm oil and pulp.

Malaysia’s air quality has already been classified as “unhealthy” based on its PSI, especially around the Kuala Lumpur area. The country’s skyline has been enveloped in dense smog.

This had affected Malaysia’s school system as well, with about 400 schools closed in Sarawak on September 10 and over 150,000 students affected by the closures, according to the local department of education.

However, BMKG, Indonesia’s climate bureau disagreed that the smog in Singapore and Malaysia came from the country, pointing out that there are forest fires in Malaysia, the Philippines, Papua New Guinea, Vietnam, East Timor and Thailand as well. -/TISG


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