Written Reply to Parliamentary Question on measures taken to address transboundary haze by Ms Grace Fu, Minister for Sustainability and the Environment
Ms Joan Pereira: To ask the Minister for Sustainability and the Environment (a) how does the Ministry ensure that appropriate measures have been taken to protect vulnerable residents, including the elderly and those with respiratory issues, from the impact of the haze; and (b) whether there are updates on the Ministry’s discussions and cooperation among countries in the region which are experiencing hot spots to reduce haze pollution under the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution.
The National Environmental Agency (NEA) works with other Government agencies through the Haze Task Force to develop and implement plans to manage the impact of haze on Singapore. The Haze Task Force convened in April prior to the start of the haze season, and again on 7 October 2023 when the air quality in some regions of Singapore exceeded PSI 100 and entered the Unhealthy range. Following the October meeting, NEA began publishing daily haze advisories up until 24 October. This provided the public with timely information to plan their activities and safeguard the health and well-being of themselves and their loved ones.
2 Specific advice was provided to the elderly, pregnant women, children and persons with chronic lung or heart disease. The public was also advised to refer to the 1-hour PM2.5 levels and personal guide when deciding on immediate activities. In the event of a severe haze episode, when the 24-hour PSI exceeds 200, PA, together with relevant agencies, will distribute N95 masks to lower income and vulnerable residents. So far this year, we did not need to activate such distributions.
3 All classrooms of primary and secondary schools, MOE Kindergartens, and Special Education schools are equipped with air purifiers to enhance the well-being of students during a haze episode. Preschools are similarly required to ensure sufficient air purifiers to accommodate children in the event of haze.
4 MOH has advised medical practitioners on how to manage and treat patients with haze-related conditions, such as asthma or Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease. MOH has also worked with healthcare institutions, including public hospitals, polyclinics and nursing homes, to put in place haze preparedness measures to deal with any increase in the number of patients with haze-related medical conditions, and ensure that they have adequate air-purifying equipment and medical supplies.
5 At the regional level, the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre, or ASMC, hosted by Meteorological Service Singapore, continues to support ASEAN member states by providing regular assessments of the regional haze situation, daily hotspot information and early warnings of transboundary haze. The ASMC also presents its forecasts and assessments at annual ASEAN haze meetings such as the Conference of Parties to the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution (AATHP). At the 18th Conference of Parties to the AATHP, which convened in Vientiane on 24 August 2023, ASEAN countries concluded an agreement to establish the ASEAN Coordinating Centre for Transboundary Haze Pollution Control in Indonesia, which will work with the ASMC to strengthen the region’s capabilities in dealing with hotspots and transboundary haze.