Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Singapore PSI breaks record into hazardous levels, PM 2.5 levels are dangerously high.

Update: Singapore PSI has hit a new record level on Friday 21 June noontime and hit to 401! according to Singapore government guidelines, PSI reading of above 400 over 24 hours "may be life threatening to ill and elderly people"!

The three-hour Singapore PSI climbed to 321 at 10 pm local time (1300 GMT) on 19 June 2013 which has put the haze in Singapore to "hazardous" level. But another and potentially more dangerous measure, 24-hour PM2.5 Concentration, is also worryingly in hazardous levels.

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 uses Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) which was developed by  United States Environment Agency but abandoned in USA in 1999 for Air Quality Index (AQI). The problem with PSI is that it does not factor in fine particles called PM 2.5 which can be more dangerous than larger dust particles, as they can enter the lungs and bloodstream more easily.

Although Singapore uses PSI, not AQI, National Environment Agency of Singapore separately calculates PM 2.5 and publishes it on its Singapore PSI web site. And the island-wide 24-hour PM2.5 Concentration is an incredible 201-246. When this reading is between 150 and 250, people with heart and lung disease, children and older adults should remain indoors and keep activity levels low. Everyone else should avoid all physical activity outdoors.

PM2.5 is called invisible killer and researchers from Peking University linked high PM 2.5 readings to spikes in the mortality rate of patients suffering heart and lung diseases.

Now do not panic immediately. We won't get poisoned with super high PM 2.5 levels. This happens a lot in Beijing and it does not cause mass destruction. You know not long time ago US Embassy in Beijing started circulating on micro blogs suggesting the density of PM 2.5 was about 250 to 350 on Oct 30, 2011. And the general air pollution index was 425, reaching the level of "poisonous" (US Embassy data created an online buzz because index released by the municipal environmental authority the same day was only 132 and the air was categorized as "lightly polluted").

But it is very unhealthy to have these PSI and PM 2.5 levels. Make sure to wear a mask. Not a surgical mask, a N95 Mask (which blocks out 95 percent of airborne particles larger than 0.3 microns) or maybe an effective and high tech one like Techno Anti-Pollution Mask.

What Is PM2.5 and PM10
What Is PM 2.5 and PM 10?

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