Singapore smog: Gas masks stock runs low amid record levels of pollution

Fears for building site workers as Indonesia tries to create rain clouds over forest fire

Singapore

Singapore’s air pollution reached another all-time high before stabilising, as the Indonesian Government stepped up its efforts to extinguish forest fires on Sumatra.

The haze in Singapore eased slightly tonight, with the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI), measured over three hours, dropping to 142, down from the record high of 401 at noon. A PSI above 400 over 24 hours is deemed “life threatening to ill and elderly persons”, while anything above 300 is considered hazardous.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered emergency management officials to “immediately mobilise all the country’s resources” to extinguish the fires on Sumatra.

Two helicopters with cloud-seeding equipment to artificially create rain were deployed from Jakarta and Borneo to Riau province, where the blazes have burned since Monday.

Earlier in the day, Singaporeans flocked to pharmacies and hospitals to buy up N95 gas masks as the air quality continued to decline.

At Tan Tock Seng Hospital residents were rationed to one box of masks each to avoid stockpiling. KK Women’s & Children’s Hospital ran out of children’s gas masks and by the early afternoon most stocks had been exhausted.

Despite the chronic conditions, no government decision was made to stop work. NGOs appealed for the city’s migrant workers – many working without gas masks – to be pulled off building sites dotted around the city-state.

“The workers have a lot of problems with these conditions, and a lot of companies have continued to  operate,” said A K M Mohsin, editor of the Singapore-Bangladeshi newspaper, Bangla Kantha. “The construction companies know if they stop work, they’ll lose money.”

Popular tourist attractions such as the Singapore Flyer were closed, with tourism expected to take a hit.

Some brands tried to cash in on the ‘haze’ effect: Adidas offered Singaporeans a free one-day gym pass to get out of the polluted air – as long as they own one piece of Adidas clothing. While McDonald’s was forced to apologise over a mock PSI advertisement, which read: “Today’s Peak Sauce Index is looking deliciously high.”

Some expats opted to flee with warnings of continued disruptions. Lydia Janssen, a mother of two young children, said she planned to take her children back to the UK while the air was still “hazardous”.

“Being cooked up inside, not feeling you can breathe with two kids both with horrendous coughs... it’s quite a lot of money [to fly back], but it’s the money or the health of our kids.”

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
newsAnother week, another dress controversy on the internet
Life and Style
Scientist have developed a test which predicts whether you'll live for another ten years
health
Life and Style
Marie had fake ID, in the name of Johanna Koch, after she evaded capture by the Nazis in wartime Berlin
historyOne woman's secret life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
News
news... and what your reaction to the creatures above says about you
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Telesales & Customer Service Executive - Call Centre Jobs

£7 - £9 per hour: Recruitment Genius: Are you outgoing? Do you want to work in...

Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - Covent Garden, central London - £45k - £55k

£45000 - £55000 per annum + 30 days holiday: Ashdown Group: Finance Manager - ...

Ashdown Group: Systems Administrator - Lancashire - £30,000

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: 3rd Line Support Engineer / Network ...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Web Developer

£26000 - £33000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Developer is required to ...

Day In a Page

Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

Climate change key in Syrian conflict

And it will trigger more war in future
How I outwitted the Gestapo

How I outwitted the Gestapo

My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
The nation's favourite animal revealed

The nation's favourite animal revealed

Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
Is this the way to get young people to vote?

Getting young people to vote

From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

Poldark star Heida Reed

'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

Money, corruption and drugs

The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

150 years after it was outlawed...

... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

You won't believe your eyes

Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn