People in Indonesia, Singapore, and Malaysia are currently battling a suffocating haze caused by forest fires from Sumatra Island.
The Pollutant Standards Index rose to around 155 by mid-afternoon in Singapore on Monday. The National Environment Agency currently lists 100 has being “unhealthy,” a fact that has prompted officials to desperately search for a solution to the problem.
According to AFP, people with chronic lung and heart problems are encouraged to stay indoors during periods of heavy pollution. Children and residents over the age of 65 are also instructed to limit their exposure to the potentially dangerous haze coming from Indonesia.
Although pollutant levels dropped a bit on Tuesday morning, the air is still considered to be too healthy to breathe. Officials have asked employers to provide protective masks to any workers who are outside for extended periods of time.
BBC News reports that efforts have been made to put out the blaze on Sumatra Island. However, the Indonesian government believes the haze isn’t just caused by forest fires.
Hadi Daryanto, an official for the Forestry Ministry, said in a statement:
“The slash-and-burn technique being used is the cheapest land-clearing method and it is not only used by local farmers, but also employees of palm oil investors including Singaporean and Malaysian companies. We hope the governments of Malaysia and Singapore will tell their investors to adopt proper measures so we can solve this problem together.”
Malaysian officials are also concerned about the pollutants in the air. Prime Minister Najib Razak warned residents that smoke from Sumatra Island could worsen in the coming days.
“Please reduce outdoor activity and drink a lot of water during this period. Health should remain a number one priority for everyone,” Razak explained.
Singapore is one of the most densely-populated countries in the entire world. This means that a considerable amount of people are currently at risk. The haze problem hit an all-time high in 1997 and 1998, resulting in widespread health issues and billions of dollars in lost business.
What do you think about the Indonesia haze that is currently affecting millions of people in Singapore and Malaysia?
[Image via Wikimedia Commons]