Singapore Air Quality Check: Precautions Parents Must Take While Heading Out

Sarmistha Neogy
·5-min read

Over the past few weeks, Singapore air quality deteriorated and a burning smell troubled citizens in many parts of the little red dot. This was primarily because of the elevated levels of ozone, an odourless pollutant.

But why did this happen and how will it affect your outdoor activities, especially during school holidays?

We find out.

Did Singaporeans Spot ‘Haze’ Or Was It Something Else?

singapore air quality
singapore air quality

Image courtesy: iStock

The ‘haze’ was actually what Singapore Civil Defence Force reported to be the largest fire–spanning the size of about a football field. This incident occurred on February 23, along the Tembusu Crescent on Jurong Island. But the repercussions were felt days after that.

This happened because depending on the direction of the wind, the smoke haze from fires in the region blew towards Singapore. Thus, giving rise to the occasional burning smell, slight haziness, and reduced visibility. To top it all, the ongoing dry conditions is causing lower rainfall and warm temperatures. These conditions were conducive in the development of land and forest fires in neighbouring countries, and local vegetation fires.

As National Environment Agency (NEA) also explained, “We often associate the smell of something burning with worsening air quality and trans-boundary haze, but this may not always be the case.”

How Is Air Quality Measured In Singapore?

singapore air quality
singapore air quality

Image courtesy: iStock

If you are about to head out with your kids, we advise that you check the air quality beforehand.

Generally, the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is used to gauge the air quality in Singapore. The calculation is based on six pollutants – particulate matter, fine particulate matter (PM2.5), sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, ozone, and nitrogen dioxide.

According to the NEA, PSI readings of 50 and below denote “good” air quality, “moderate” for 51-100 and “unhealthy” for 101-200.

On March 15, the air quality of Singapore- the 1 hour PM2.5 reading is in Band 1 category (Normal).

Check PSI Readings Over Past 24 Hours in Singapore

24-hr PSI Readings from 14 March 2021 4 PM to 15 March 2021 3 PM

Region/Time

4pm

5pm

6pm

7pm

8pm

9pm

10pm

11pm

12am

1am

2am

3am

North

51

51

51

51

52

52

52

52

52

53

53

53

South

52

52

52

52

52

52

51

48

46

44

45

44

East

55

55

55

55

55

55

55

55

55

55

54

54

West

38

37

37

38

38

39

40

40

39

38

37

37

Central

43

42

42

43

44

45

45

45

46

47

48

49

Overall Singapore

3855

3755

3755

3855

3855

3955

4055

4055

3955

3855

3754

3754

Region/Time

4am

5am

6am

7am

8am

9am

10am

11am

12pm

1pm

2pm

3pm

North

53

53

53

54

54

54

55

55

55

55

55

55

South

45

46

46

46

46

49

49

48

48

48

47

48

East

53

53

53

53

52

52

52

53

53

53

53

53

West

39

39

40

41

42

42

42

43

45

45

45

44

Central

51

52

52

53

53

53

54

54

54

54

54

54

Overall Singapore

3953

3953

4053

4154

4254

4254

4255

4355

4555

4555

4555

4455

Table Source: National Environment Agency

Should We Go Outdoors If There Is A Burning Smell?

There is no correlation between a burning smell in the air and the PSI or PM2.5 concentration levels, as the NEA shared.

However, if you can’t decide whether to step out, then refer to the one-hour PM2.5 readings.

When the band is in the normal range, people can go out and do their normal activities. When the reading hits Band 2, PM2.5 concentration rises.

It is advisable that you reduce any strenuous outdoor activities for the next hour, if you spot the same.

How Deteriorating Air Can Affect Your Kid’s Health

Deteriorating air quality can affect your children’s health in many ways.

According to a study published in Nature Communications, wildfire is believed to be more harmful to public health than any other source of particulate matter air pollution. Researchers found that even brief air pollution exposure can actually change the regulation and expression of children’s genes and perhaps alter blood pressure.

Thus, potentially laying the foundation for increased risk of diseases later in life, including breathing problems.

Air pollution exposure associates with an increased risk of neonatal jaundice, according to clinical experience. However, no studies have quantified this relationship.

Keeping in mind that Singapore air quality is fluctuating, parents must be cautious while stepping out.

Here Are Some Precautions To Take When You Are At Home

  • You can use air purifiers

  • Avoid opening doors and windows during peak hours of pollution/heat

  • Infuse immunity-boosting food in your child’s menu

  • You can also use indoor plants as natural air purifiers

  • Keep the room clean, don’t vacuum.

With the March school holidays this week, your kids are at home and they want to go out. Here are some precautions to follow when you step out with your kid.

Keep These In Mind When You Step Out

singapore air quality
singapore air quality

45″> Image courtesy: iStock

  • Use air masks to avoid exposure of pollutants. Masks are important not only to protect against poor air, but also from the virus.

  • Stay hydrated and drink plenty of water and other fluids when you stay out.

  • Avoid early morning walks as the concentration of pollutants is highest during this time.

  • Keep any allergy medicine in handy or carry inhalers and nebulisers along with you.

By making small changes in your everyday routine, you can take care of yourself and your family’s health during this time. If you feel that your kid is experiencing trouble breathing or shows signs of irritation on the skin, immediately get medical help.

News Source: The Straits Times

ALSO READ:

How To Choose An Air Purifier

Haze In Singapore: All You Need To Know

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