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Haze Hits Unhealthy Levels In Singapore, Alert Maintained

A couple sit at the bay against a backdrop of the financial highrise buildings which are blanketed with haze in Singapore 16 October 2006. Photo courtesy of Roslan Rahman and AFP.
by Staff Writers
Singapore (AFP) Oct 16, 2006
Singapore on Monday maintained a health advisory issued over the weekend as the pollution index soared above the unhealthy range due to smoke from forest fires in neighbouring Indonesia. A foggy haze that shrouded the city-state earlier in the day worsened in the afternoon, and the National Environment Agency put the pollution index at 127 as of 3:00 pm (0700 GMT) -- well above the 100 health threshold.

"Persons with existing heart or respiratory ailments should reduce physical exertion and outdoor activity. The general population should reduce vigorous outdoor activity," the National Environment Agency said on its website.

An index of between 101-200 is considered "unhealthy" and can cause mild aggravation of symptoms among those with chronic heart or lung aliments.

It can also cause eye irritation, sneezing or coughing among some unhealthy individuals, the environment agency said.

The smog carries with it a burning smell and has reduced visibility.

Indonesia's annual burn-off to clear land for agriculture causes a haze that typically smothers parts of Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Indonesia itself is also affected and some residents in haze-smothered areas have resorted to praying for rain to alleviate the smog.

Its government has outlawed land-clearing by fire but weak enforcement means the ban is largely ignored.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Thursday apologised to Singapore and Malaysia over the haze.

A Singapore professor told AFP on Friday the haze from Indonesia could have caused about 50 million dollars in losses to the island-state's economy over the month.

Euston Quah, head of economics at Singapore's Nanyang Technological University, said his estimate was extrapolated from a detailed study he made in 1997, when the annual haze problem was at its worst.

Environment ministers from Singapore, Malaysia and other regional nations affected by the haze met Friday in Indonesia to search for ways of combating the annual problem, which disrupts travel and leads to health problems.

The ministers told their host promptly to ratify a regional treaty on preventing cross-border haze pollution.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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Pressure Intensifies On Indonesia As Meeting Sought Over Haze
Singapore (AFP) Oct 11, 2006
Pressure intensified on Indonesia to take action on the smoke haze blighting neighbouring countries as Singapore invited regional ministers to discuss "urgent" measures to tackle the problem on Friday. Singapore Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong has written Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to "express his disappointment" over the recurring problem, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said Wednesday.

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