Singapore: Heavy Smog May Last Several Weeks

Singapore Heavy Smog May Last Several WeeksSingapore’s prime minister has warned that the haze engulfing the city-state could last for weeks, as air pollution soared to record levels.

‘Definitive action’

The pollution standards index peaked at 371 on Thursday, breaking previous records and well above hazardous levels, before falling to about 300. The haze is the result of forest fires started by farmers clearing land on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.

The issue has sparked accusations between the two neighbours. Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Environment and Water Resources Minister, wrote on his Facebook wall that he would demand “definitive action” from Jakarta.

‘Hazardous pollution levels’

The poor air quality has prompted widespread buying of disposable face masks, leading shops to run out of stock. Parts of Malaysia have also recorded “hazardous” pollution levels, with over 200 schools in the country’s south ordered to shut. Malaysia’s Department of Environment has also banned open burning in some states. Indonesia’s forestry ministry said it intended to use cloud seeding to try to induce rain on the affected area of Sumatra.

Indonesian officials have suggested that foreign palm oil investors, including Singaporean companies, may bear some responsibility for the fires. However, several major Singapore-based palm oil companies have denied any involvement. Singapore’s prime minister said the city-state had provided satellite data to Indonesia to help identify who was responsible for the fires. He added that if any Singaporean companies, or companies with a presence in Singapore played a part in the fires, they would be held responsible.

Who is to blame for this hazardous haze shrouding Singapore and Malaysia? What should be done to remedy the situation?

Source: BBC News

Image: Breaking News

Strange Yellow Haze Engulfs China’s Wuhan City

Young and old residents of the Chinese metropolis of Wuhan were advised to stay indoors on Monday after a thick haze blanketed the city of nine million people, official media said.

Described by residents as opaque with yellowish and greenish tinges, the fug descended suddenly in the morning, prompting people to rush to put on face masks, witnesses told AFP. The official Xinhua news agency quoted the environmental protection department of Hubei province saying in a statement: “Children, the elderly and people with heart or respiratory diseases are advised to stay indoors.”

Xinhua said straw burning was the cause and denied there had been any industrial accidents in or near Wuhan, after Internet rumours suggested there had been an explosion at a chemical complex northeast of the city. France’s consulate-general in the central city advised residents to stay at home, close their windows and limit the use of air-conditioning. Xinhua described the haze as grey-yellow in colour and said it was seen in seven cities in Hubei province, including Wuhan.

Air pollution is increasingly acute in major Chinese cities and authorities are frequently accused of underestimating the severity of the problem in urban areas, especially in Beijing. China’s environment suffers from industrial pollution, increasing traffic and lax protection measures. Official air-quality statistics are sometimes at odds with non-government measurements, and are often viewed with distrust.

What could have caused this yellow haze to descend upon Wuhan? Do you think it poses a significant health threat to Chinese citizens? Tell us what you think!

Source: Yahoo News

Image: China Buzz