June 24, 2013

The haze and App

Category: Weather

With the unprecedented smog level making headlines in Singapore since last Friday where PSI Index had hit record breaking levels in history, I, too, fell victim to being PSI-obsessed. My excuse was legit – I was only trying to keep up with the latest situation on behalf of my parents who were monitoring the situation at home while they stayed over with us here in Bangkok for a few days.

On Thursday, I have raided a few pharmacies in search of face masks for my parents to bring home, only to find that they were sold out. (I bet there already have been Singaporeans who beat me to it). I finally managed to get a few at a hardware store. These are hardcore!

By Friday night, I have downloaded a new free app to track Singapore’s PSI in real time. I thought it was quite a neat little app to have (although it gave me a blank white screen for 24 hours after I downloaded it). Read more about the app here.

What is missing though,  is the PM2.5 information – one very vital information that measures fine particulate matter (PM) which is 2.5 micrometers in diameters or smaller – pollutant particles so deadly as it is tiny enough to be inhaled into the bloodstream and the deepest regions of the lung.  A piece of information which I only found out on Saturday night after extensive reading on haze at hazardous level and its impact. An extremely important news for those in authority to tell its people that it is a much more important measure than just by looking at PSI. A measure, in which I felt that those in authority, had downplayed in the first few days of the haze.

It does appear that from the sources I read, there has not been enough education or information on PM 2.5. What I thought was bizarre was that, as soon as the smog subsided, Singaporeans were quick to spend their time outdoors (apparent by what they posted on FB); completely oblivious to the existence of deadly pollutants left behind by the haze.  In fact, even when the haze was at a high 401 (imagine PM 2.5 level! And effectively rendering those surgical masks completely useless!), there was not a decree to allow Singaporeans to head home for the day. I wonder if this is a case of those in authority being completely clueless of what PM 2.5 means, or had they choose to ignore that fact so as not to create unnecessary panic?

[FYI: Singapore’s neighbor, Malaysia, declared a state of emergency as their PSI hit 500+ on Sunday. Given that Singapore is situated pretty close to Malaysia, I found it hard to believe that the PSI index in Singapore had gone down quite considerably on the same day. Wind direction, perhaps? What’s even more appalling was that we have The Minister telling Singaporeans “not to worry”and that “they will take action when the PSI readings soar far beyond the hazardous level”.  I think that means when people in Singapore are literally dropping like flies, and they would action it with conferences, closed door meeting and more talks]

But I digress. I was talking about the app.
I reckon, perhaps, should there be future development to this cool PSI app, the team who developed this could incorporate PM2.5 information as well.
Meanwhile, kudos to the net citizens who cared enough to spread and share information on PM2.5 and, for those who are reading my post today, I hope you manage to find a good mask to keep you and your family filtered from the deadly pollutants.

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