Generally speaking, air quality in Singapore is far better than you’d expect from a major world city. There is virtually no smog, and once you’re on a reasonably high floor, the visibility is impressive.
Not so, of late. Every year farmers in Sumatra (click here for a map...I didn’t know where it was, either) burn their land as a cheap and fast way prior to planting season. Yes, it’s illegal. No, Indonesia does nothing about it. And so, every year, air quality in Singapore (and other surrounding countries/islands) suffers as the wind blows the smoke and ash over our city, creating the annual “haze.”
Our air quality has gone from good to moderate and on Thursday into the “unhealthy” range. Open a window or step outside and you can taste the smoke in your throat. Your eyes itch, and visibility has taken a nosedive. Building that I can usually see with no problem are shrouded in haze, and the sky is a uniform greyish/white.
I’m especially concerned for Ravi–with his asthma, he is particularly vulnerable to dips in air quality, and this week has certainly seen him coughing a great deal more than I’d like to see. But while Ravi can take a cab to and from work to minimize his exposure, it’s increasingly difficult to keep the toddler from destroying the house. Most of her favorite places; the zoo, the botanic gardens…are outside, as is the pool, and walking by the river. The few that aren’t, like the indoor playgrounds have been crowded. As for me, my eyes are sore and I sound more like a chronic smoker (I don’t, for the record) with each passing day.
Yesterday the haze was worse…check out the pictures at this website to see some really dramatic/scary photos of how bad the air was yesterday. You can also find video from Channel News Asia here (look for the haze video).
According to this article, Singapore has offered to help put out the fires, but has been turned down.
Sadly, there is no rain predicted in the next few days and winds will continue to blow the smoke directly at Singapore.