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Bertha HarianBertha Harian

News Reports

Less hazy over the haze

Take a break from wheezing and know this: We’re going to get more information on what we’re breathing in. It’s good to know that the G has ditched this notion that the people can’t take in too much information on the haze. Remember what it said last time about the PSI etc and when people were grumbling over measurements regarding particulate matter? Well, from May, it’s actually going to release more information.

So the new PSI will include PM2.5, the tiny harmful stuff that can make you sick because the body can’t filter them out. Now, we’re using PM10 – the bigger stuff that gets into your nose. We get PM2.5 as well now, but as a separate reading.

Seems this new measurement is being applauded all round, given that people are more concerned about the impact of the haze on their health. I wish though we are told what other countries use the measurement so that we can tell if we are, well, suffering more or less than the people elsewhere.( Of course, we can still use the standalone PM2.5 like the scientists do.)

And we will be given hourly updates, real hourly updates, not the hourly update that’s averaged from readings over the past 24 hours.

Well, well. Good. There will less quarrel then over what we breathe in at a point in time and what the PSI says.The G won’t have to deal with the issue of the credibility of the data or have to keep explaining why what you see outside the window is different from the picture the PSI gives.

MEWR’s Vivian Balakrishnan said more raw data will be put out. That’s great. Besides academics and scientists, I’m sure there are plenty of laymen who want to pore over them. And better they get such data than resort to all sorts of websites to come to their own conclusions about the state of the haze.

One thing that the G might have to keep repeating though: The new PSI means that we’ll immediately shift from Good to Moderate. In fact, we’re actually Moderate 90 per cent of the time with the new PSI even though we not more polluted than before. And you can bet that there will be confusion again as not many people will have known about the change. Still, it is a change for the better.

More on the haze: Besides the Bill to nail the fire-starters abroad now up for public consultation, we have a just set-up committee of legal eagles headed by former DPM S Jayakumar and diplomat Tommy Koh to tell us what we can do about stopping or solving transboundary pollution. Like whether we can sue the pants off them using international law.   

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AFTERNOTE: I got something wrong in my copy

In terms of the measurements that will be reported, NEA will STILL be reporting the 24-hr PSI and the 3-hr PSI on an hourly basis. (We’re talking about the new, improved PSI here with the PM2.5 incorporated) The 24-hr PSI will STILL be an average reading over the last 24 hours because that is the basis for the issuance of health advisories. Similarly, the 3-hr PSI will STILL be an average reading over the last 3 hours. What is new is that NEA will also report the 1-hour PM2.5 concentration levels (an hourly update based solely on data over the previous hour) for those who wish to have more information.

Sorry if I have made it hazier…hope it’s really less hazy now.

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An ex-journalist who can't get enough of the news after being in the business for 26 years

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