Sunday, October 4, 2015

NEA Director's reply confusing public and not addressng public concern

NEA Director, Fong P K in his reply to a reader feedback to Voices in Today papers on 3 Oct 15 said that, "The National Environment Agency (NEA) is providing hourly, real-time haze information on our various platforms."

He is confusing the public because even though NEA data tables give the hourly reading, these readings are NOT real time.

On NEA website it is clearly stated be it the 24 and 3 hours PSI or the 1 hourly PM2.5 reading, they are AVERAGE over 24 or 3 hours.  The 1 hourly reading is also average data.  These 2 statements are from NEA website under their FAQs on PSI :

1) For PM2.5, the new 24-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 24 hours. The new 3-hour PSI reflects the PM2.5 concentration levels averaged across 3 hours.

2) The 1-hour PM2.5 concentrations reflect the PM2.5 levels averaged over one hour, and can give you an indication of the current air quality.

So why is NEA Director misleading the public to think they are real time reading? Besides, he did not address the reader's concern which is lack of real time data for the public to make informed decision.

The shortcoming of historical average data is the time delay between when we are hit by unhealthy or hazardous level of haze to the time NEA data does reflect it. It defeats the purpose to have people wearing mask or staying indoor after the high PSI level has passed.  Is this not too late where our safety and health is concern?

For safety best practice in taking precaution, it is real time reading that matters. When evaluating the health concern due to exposure, perhaps the 24 hours PSI reading could be useful. 

NEA is already in possession of real time data, why is NEA so reluctant to share with the public? There have been repeated feedback year after year that we need such data to make informed decision regarding our daily activities during the haze period. 

By down playing* the PSI level, NEA is putting public safety and health at risk. We know PM2.5 can be inhaled into our lungs and could be carcinogenic. Could the public take class action against NEA if there is a high incident of lung cancers in the future due to under reporting* of the PSI level, resulting in public complacency in taking proactive measures to protect ourselves?

*Note : Besides, time delay in critical haze occurrence, the averaging of data by NEA has resulted in much lower level of PSI when compare to real time reading.
For real time data on PSI please refer to :  - which provides real time air pollution information for more than 60 countries in the world


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