As I sit in my apartment that reeks of the not entirely unpleasant smell of burning trees, my eyes stinging, my throat sore and my lungs starting to feel like I’ve chain-smoked an entire packet of Malboro Reds, Singapore is gripped by a national crisis: the Haze. This Haze has been caused by smoke from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia, due to the practise of open burning to clear land for agricultural, or deforestation to you and I.
Air pollution levels reached an all time high last night. According to the National Environment Agency (NEA) The PSI reading at 11pm was 321. This is classified as ‘hazardous’. It is apparently particularly bad now due to dry weather conditions, monsoon winds and the number of fire hotspots. It’s all people in Singapore seem to be talking about as it affects every one of us, although bizarrely it doesn’t seem to have made the news in the UK. It certainly made for an entertaining evening on Twitter last night, with the NEA bearing the brunt of the jokes.
Here are astonishing before and after shots from the condo on River Valley Road:
This is the first time I’ve ever experienced anything like this before, and it’s made me realise how tough it must be living in place like Shanghai, where the air quality is often very poor. I can smell the smoke as it clings to my clothes and forms an invisible layer over my skin. Listening to a doctor on Channel News Asia this morning, you realise breathing in this smoky air is really not good for you, with prolonged exposure affecting the heart as well as the lungs. I certainly could do with a facial.
People are rushing out to by masks and air purifiers, although I have not as yet. However, I am keeping the children inside as much as possible, so no swimming or playground time. Miss C’s school has cancelled sports events and any outdoor playtime and it is possible they will shut schools and offices, if levels keep rising. Looking outside, I have a feeling they might.
At the time of publishing (12pm), the reported PSI readings have just jumped from 190 to 299. I can’t even see Marina Bay Sands from the condo, a sign the Haze is really bad, and there is a very strong smell of smoke in the air.
The Singapore government is in talks with the Indonesian government about possible solutions to the Haze (ending deforestation perhaps?), but in the mean time everyone is watching the latest readings, praying for rain or a change in wind direction, so the nation can breath again.