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Hazy days ahead? PSI nears 100 on Saturday; NEA says it may increase if wind direction changes

Wondering if there's something in the air lately? You might just be right. 

On Saturday (Sept 30) afternoon, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) reached 80, reported Shin Min Daily News. 

The average PSI readings on Saturday in Eastern and Central Singapore ranged from 76 to 78. 

A 24-hour PSI reading above 100 puts the air quality into the Unhealthy range, according to the National Environment Agency (NEA). 

In a statement released on Friday, NEA announced that the PSI on Friday (Sept 31) hit 81 in the Eastern part of Singapore. 

The agency also noted an increase in the number of hotspots over Sumatra in the past few days, with 241 and 145 hotspots detected on 27 and 28 Sept respectively. 

Moderate to dense smoke haze was also observed over parts of south and central Sumatra. 

"The winds in our nearby region are expected to continue blowing from the southeast and keep the dense haze away from Singapore," said the agency.

NEA added that although Singapore is not expected to experience severe haze in the coming days, the PSI may deteriorate if there is a shift in wind direction. 

The agency will continue to monitor the haze situation and provide further updates if the situation changes. The Government's Haze Task Force is also "ready to roll out their respective haze action plans" should there be an increase in the PSI.

On Friday evening, Minister for Sustainability and Environment Grace Fu also took to her personal Facebook page to urge the vulnerable groups — the elderly, pregnant women and children, as well as individuals with chronic lung and heart diseases — to "make good preparations" when planning outdoor activities. 

She also encouraged members of the public to refer to the one-hour PM 2.5 concentration as an indicator of air quality when planning their strenuous or outdoor activities. 

Parents worried about air quality affecting young children 

Speaking to Shin Min Daily News, some young parents shared that they were in contact with their children's schools to ensure that the institutions are ready to undertake measures to protect their children from their haze. 

One mother, surnamed Chen, told Shin Min that she bought an air purifier two years ago, but only began using it recently. 

"My son is two, and my daughter is seven, it's better to err on the side of caution. If we need to leave the house, I'll check the PSI and make sure everyone wears a mask," said the 36-year-old accountant. 

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