Tag Archives: environment

Air Pollution Returns to Singapore and Johor

Bad air pollution levels have returned to Singapore and Johor in the last month. So far the recent air pollution problem has been moderate compared to June of 2013 (or Bejing). The readings have been in the “moderate” problem area but those are noticeable visually and when you are outside breathing the air is obviously more polluted than normal. I don’t usually use my air conditioning but I have the last week due to the air pollution.

The air pollution readings are published by Malaysia and Singapore. Air pollution will get a bit worse at night (assuming everything else stays the same) due to air pressure.

Air pollution has dramatic health consequences. The World Health Organization released a study last month stating that 7 million premature deaths annually are linked to air pollution.

Regionally, low- and middle-income countries in the WHO South-East Asia and Western Pacific Regions had the largest air pollution-related burden in 2012, with a total of 3.3 million deaths linked to indoor air pollution and 2.6 million deaths related to outdoor air pollution.

The damage done by air pollution to health include respiratory diseases such as asthma, cardiovascular diseases, changes in lung function. There is mounting evidence that exposure to air pollution has long-term effects on lung development in children.

With effect from 1 April 2014, Singapore has moved to an integrated air quality reporting index, where PM2.5 (particulate matter 2.5 micros or larger) will be incorporated into the current Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) as its sixth pollutant parameter. The PSI will therefore reflect a total of six pollutants – sulphur dioxide (SO2), particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO) and ozone (O3).

The 3-hour PSI will take into account PM2.5 concentrations. In addition, NEA will also publish the 1-hour PM2.5 concentrations every hour.

From the Malaysian site today (their update was dated September 2013)

DOE is in the midst of finalising the new Malaysian Air Quality Guidelines to include the standard limit of PM2.5 in the ambient air which based on World Health Organisation (WHO) 2006 Guidelines.

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Extremely Bad Haze in Johor Bahru and Singapore

The haze in Johor Bahru and Singapore has been extremely bad the last few days. It hit the worst reading since 2006 in Singapore a few days ago and today seems much worse. [June 20th update: the air pollution readings exceeded all time highs in both Singapore and JB. And Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong said the haze could “easily last for several weeks and quite possibly longer until the dry season ends (September or October) in Sumatra.”]

photo of the Haze over Johor Bahru

Updated photo (see the bottom of post for original photo). Haze over Johor Bahru, June 20th at 11AM.

photo of Johor Bahru on a clear day

Photo of the same scene without hazy conditions, buildings in Singapore are visible in the background.

The conditions are mainly due to Indonesian fires. It is hard to reconcile the eco-city push for the Iskandar marketing however with the continued open burning of trash in downtown Johor Bahru daily [update a day or two after the severe haze problems Malaysia seems to have banned open burning if I read press reports correctly].

Update: From the Department of Environment of Malaysia [link broken so it was removed] which publishes API* readings 3 times a day from 4 sites in Johor (as well as the rest of Malaysia). A reading above 100 is unhealthy, above 300 is hazardous. With readings of 300 and above: healthy people will experience reduced endurance in activities. There may be strong irritations and symptoms and may trigger other illnesses. Elders and the sick should remain indoors and avoid exercise. Healthy individuals should avoid out door activities. For readings of 200-250, healthy people will be noticeably affected. People with breathing or heart problems will experience reduced endurance in activities. These individuals and elders should remain indoors and restrict activities.

date
  
Location (Johor)
  
7AM**
  
11AM**
  
5PM**
Jun 18th Kota Tinggi 107 118 126
Larkin Lama 116 125 122
Muar 65 70 68
Pasir Gudang 142 153 148
Jun 19th Kota Tinggi 137 138 166
Larkin Lama 122 124 152
Muar 133 157 172
Pasir Gudang 148 149 168
Jun 20th Kota Tinggi 211 232 291
Larkin Lama 171 181 219
Muar 337 383 no report
Pasir Gudang 190 199 333
Singapore (psi**) 162 183 192
Singapore (PM2.5**) 223 247 275
Jun 21st Kota Tinggi 313 314 226
Larkin Lama 190 197 158
Muar 183 193 273
Pasir Gudang 310 323 189
Singapore (psi**) 184 206 198
Singapore (PM2.5**) 247 262 250

Subscribe to the RSS feed for the Living in Malaysia blog. You may also like, Circumhorizontal Arcs, Fire Rainbows, Cloud Rainbows in JB from a day when pollution wasn’t a problem and nature put on a show.

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