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Air pollution in Singapore reached unhealthy levels Thursday due to smoke from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia, officials said.
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said the situation had deteriorated since Wednesday, the first day the haze was detected in the city-state.
The three-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) recording rose to 108 as of 6:00 pm (1000 GMT), according to data on the NEA’s website. A PSI reading between 101-200 is considered unhealthy.
“The smoke haze situation has worsened since yesterday,” the NEA said in a statement.
“Hazy conditions are expected to persist as the prevailing winds will continue to bring smoke haze from Sumatra to Singapore.”
Officials advised people with heart or respiratory problems to reduce physical exertion and outdoor activities and warned that the haze caused by forest fires on the Indonesian island of Sumatra could last until Saturday.
The NEA also said Singapore’s environment minister Yaacob Ibrahim had Thursday expressed “deep concern” about the haze to his Indonesian counterpart Gusti Muhammad Hatta.
“Minister expressed his deep concern that the haze situation would further deteriorate if Indonesia does not put in place immediate and enhanced measures to curb the hotspot situation in Sumatra,” it read.
“He urged Indonesia to allocate the necessary resources, and implement timely and effective measures to solve the haze situation.”
The problem has also affected Malaysia, where schools in the coastal town of Muar have been closed since Wednesday after the air quality reached dangerous levels.
The haze, which came less than a week after an Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) meeting in Brunei on how to deal with the problem, was a hot discussion topic on the Internet.
“OMG… No wonder I’m feeling so terrible today,” said candycetoh in a message on the social messaging site Twitter.
Eunicekohh tweeted: “I’m already tearing and can’t breathe properly.”
In a Facebook post, Farin Jaffar said he was “super irritated” with the haze.
“I can feel my eyes getting watery,” he wrote.
Haze caused by the fires in Indonesia builds up during the dry season when farmers clean their land by burning, affecting tourism and contributing to health problems across the region.