Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Singapore PSI and haze facts

What is PSI?
PSI stands for The Pollutant Standards Index is system of measuring pollution levels for the major air pollutants. It is based on a scale devised by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) to provide a way for broadcasts and newspapers to report air quality on a daily basis.

Who uses PSI?
The PSI is used in a number of countries including the United States and Singapore. Since 1999, The United States EPA has replaced the Pollution Standards Index (PSI) with the Air Quality Index (AQI) to incorporate new PM 2.5 and ozone standards. Singapore still uses PSI.

Singapore has not yet moved to replace the PSI with the Air Quality Index. Instead, it publishes the PSI and the PM2.5 Concentration separately.

Where can I get latest PSI in Singapore?
The best place is National Environment Agency PSI web page. NEA updates latest Singapore PSI and PM 2.5 Readings here.

What is PM 2.5 published in NEA PSI web site?
PM, Particulate Matter, is a definition of particle pollution in the air. There are two kinds of particle pollution, fine particles and inhalable coarse particles. Fine particles are called PM 2.5, because their size is 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. Singapore PSI does not factor in these potentially more dangerous particles but NEA publishes their levels separately. For more info, see Singapore PSI breaks record into hazardous levels, PM 2.5 levels are dangerously high.

Singapore PSI and haze facts
Particulate Matter Pollution in the air
What are levels of PSI readings?

000 - 050 Good
051 - 100 Moderate
101 - 200 Unhealthy
201 - 300 Very unhealthy
300+  Hazardous
Source : NEA PSI page

What to do to protect yourself from high levels of PSI?
Other than limiting outtdoor activities, you are advised to use N95 masks (masks that can filter 95% of 0.3 micron+ particles) when you are out. At home, it is better to use aircon instead of natural ventilation.

An N95 mask like this is one of the best ways to protect yourself from haze.

"If you have concerns about the level of particulate matter in the air you are breathing, you should minimize your exposure by avoiding outdoor physical activity (especially near high-traffic areas) and, if you have existing respiratory problems, by staying indoors with the windows closed and the air conditioning on. When driving in dusty or smoky air, running the car air conditioning may help to clean the cabin air by passing outside air through a filter on the way to the cabin. This technique may be ineffective in the re-circulate or maximum air conditioning mode if this mode bypasses the air conditioning filter and in cars without an air conditioning filter" Source : Particulate Matter Pollution Fact Sheet

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