SINGAPORE - From May, Singapore will have a new Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) that includes tiny, hazardous particles referred to as PM2.5.
The move is timely as it gives a better picture of the toxicity of the air as the PM2.5 can enter people's lungs and blood to cause harm, said experts interviewed.
Minister for the Environment and Water Resources Vivian Balakrishnan said as much when he announced the change in Parliament yesterday.
"This revised single index will reflect whichever of six pollutant parameters is the worst.
"In reality, we expect the PSI will be determined almost all the time by the levels of PM2.5. As a doctor, I think this is reasonable as PM2.5 is the one we are most concerned with," he said.
Many people had called for more data on PM2.5 last year, during Singapore's worst haze episode, owing to its health impact.
Nanyang Technological University's Professor Ang Peng Hwa, who created the Haze Elimination Action Team Facebook campaign in 2007, said the new PSI "reports more accurately the situation, that PM2.5 is bad for health".
The National Environment Agency (NEA) said yesterday that based on the present PSI, each of the past five years had between 91 and 96 per cent of "good" air quality days, and just 4 to 9 per cent of "moderate" days.