Monday, October 12, 2015

NEA please get your priority right!

No one is disputing that NEA continues to use the 24 hr averaged PSI for their health advisory.  However, in order that the public to make informed decision to minimize exposure (use of N95mask or remain indoor), we need realistic data to do so. We are talking about proactive measure to safe guard our health.  Why do NEA not get it?

We agree that public should not base on visibility nor smell to determine how bad the haze is, as humidity and other factors affect it. But neither can the public base on the past 24 hrs historical averaged data, as it does NOT reflect the current situation! It is precisely for this reason that the public took to guessing by using visual and odor check. Get it NEA?

That is why we are asking for instant cast data. Since NEA has now included the 1 hr PM2.5 data, they should give it to us without averaging it down. Why must NEA insists on averaging all their data, be it 24, 3 or 1 hr reading?

Safety and health data for public consumption should be simple and easy to understand. However, NEA is making it into a web of complication which only confuses the public.

Not only we have reading base on different hours (24, 3 and 1) we have different unit of measurement! So 24 and 3 hrs are base on PSI, while 1 hr PM2.5 uses microgram per cubic meter The public is used to PSI reading, they are unfamiliar with microgram per cubic meter.  They may think the reference point for unhealthy / hazardous level is the same. They are NOT.

* For 24 & 3 hrs PSI reading, the unhealthy range is above 100 PSI.
* For 1hr PM2.5 the unhealthy range is from 56 microgram per cubic meter.

US EPA (environmental protection agency) gives the 24hr reading for PM2.5 to be equal or less than 35 microgram per cubic meter. Their annual limit for PM2.5 is 15 microgram per cubic meter. These limits are based over 3 years period.

Since we have been expose to the haze for decades and NEA has been collecting data, can NEA let us know if our 24 hours and annual exposure has exceeded EPA recommendation?

The very fact that 90% of the public do not use protective mask even during days of terrible haze is a reflection of how low is our public safety awareness of the hazardous nature of PM2.5 which is link to lung cancer risk besides other health problems. NEA and MOH should be concerned that a developed country like S'pore, our public safety and health awareness is same as those of 3rd world nations.

NEA please get your priority right.  Public safety and health is number one. Making the data looks better should never be your focus!

Note : NEA may wish to consider removing their 3hrs averaged PSI reading as it neither reflects the current situation nor can it be used as health advisory. It was introduced in 1997 as 'stop-gap' measure to provide reading closer to current haze situation, since NEA did not wish to provide instant cast data. After 18 yrs, we are still stuck in the same situation!

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