Sunday, 23 June 2013

SG Haze: What you really need to worry about is PM 2.5 NOT PSI

The only thing you really need to take away from here is that PM2.5 is the real killer. See here, here and here for evidence. NEA does publish PM2.5 readings, and PSI can take a back seat.

Update: Those who wish to protect themselves can take a look at how we are doing it here

S here, those who have read my earlier posts know I love disclaimers. Then again, despite these, some people still don't get it. Here goes:

For those who are already aware that the real danger in haze is PM 2.5, this post would be purely for your entertainment. But if you deem it helpful, please share with your loved ones.

This post came about because I noticed yesterday on Facebook that the skies were apparently blue and visible once again, and that PSI readings had actually dropped. People were once again taking to the streets, and even starting to exercise outdoors again. How very dangerous and worrying - unless you are a PAP member/hardcore supporter, in which case, please treat this article as bullshit, and heed your dear Minister's advice instead.

"We can still go out". This sentiment seems pretty prevalent from what I can see. Never mind yesterday's PM 2.5 levels of above 200 micrograms per m³.
According to Emergency 101, an official Government site set up in response to the haze, three-hour PSI readings are a measure of PM10. 24-hour readings measure either PM10 or PM2.5. Wow, make up your mind. Adding to confusion but giving us the clearest picture of all, PM2.5 is ALSO reported as a separate value. Given the mercurial (or prata-flipping) nature of what exactly constitutes PSI, I'm including a screen grab:



 Yahoo! Singapore states:
"The PM 10 filter allows all particles PM 10 and below to go through, thus it includes [emphasis mine] the PM 2.5 reading as well."
 Whereas the NEA official website comes across as less definitive:

So what exactly does PSI measure now? In the past it used to measure a basket of pollutants such as sulphur dioxide, hydrocarbons, etc...
I find this quite preposterous, because it's like saying a measuring index can focus on whatever the hell the creator chooses to. I mean, the Gahmen/NEA could declare PSI to be a measure of PM Lee's height (Good day to you Sir, if you are reading) instead of PM10, to take this analogy way over the top.

PM10 is bad, no doubt. It clogs your noses and gives you copious multicolour pee sai (nose dirt/boogers), and is primarily responsible for reduction in visibility which characterised most of the photos recently posted on Facebook, et al. Of course, for those in the know, petrochemical smog also causes hazing at other times of the year, but it's usually restricted to morning hours and results in an orange pall. And it's nowhere near as bad as the haze as we know it.

Not mine... In case you are wondering.
The real killer as admitted by our dearest Mainstream Media is PM2.5. At least the facts are there. However, the emphasis clearly isn't sufficient. The Government needs to come out and put its foot down and tell people explicitly that PSI isn't everything, instead of making lame excuses. Enough people have lambasted Dr Ng Eng Hen for asking people to focus on the 24-hour readings. Instead of saying that, could Dr Ng not have asked people to watch PM2.5? And this guy is a medical doctor! Also, surfing the NEA website, at first glance, what would one think is the main issue?

There is plenty of information out there on the dangers of PM2.5. I'm not sure what percentage of our population knows this, but my Facebook feed is worrying. My own family didn't get it until I hammered the point home yesterday, instead focusing on PSI readings.

NRSC didn't quite get it, either, if you saw our earlier posts on haze here and here, we were ignorant about the real danger as well. In fact, I went to work as per normal last week, armed with only a surgical mask that I had bought many years ago from Daiso.

I'm not active on Twitter, but I do know it could be a very rough gauge for awareness or at least momentum of certain topics. Let's take a look at the following screen shots:


Tweets on PSI spiked to around 200,000 on June 19. Compare this with PM2.5 below
PM2.5 had just 450 mentions at its peak
It's telling that there has been a spike to 1800 mentions for "clear sky". "blue sky" has similar figures. Contrast this with PM2.5, which is what we should really worry about.
Spread the word.

-S

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