Smog – Now coming to the air near you!

Still on the smog alert, I am determined to find out if the west really possess a worser air quality than the rest of the island. Here I am sniffling in my morning sinus which I had since young, growing up in the West near industrial estates, and my perpetual allergy to dust in the air – could this be a result of poorer air quality?

If you look closely to the above photo taken at Lakeside MRT just last week, you can see clearly that the buildings in the horizon is shrouded by poor visibility caused by what would be the smog! Compare the foreground of the photo and you can see the layered effect of the buildings behind, with each further one looking more like a pirate ship emerging from the fog.

Except this is not fog! This is smog which is essentially smoke + fog. We’ve seen where the smoke was coming from in the last post and this is me living in smog.

Look out for that building at the center of the photo in the back near the horizon. You can hardly see it and on a clear day, it’s prominent!

A friend and metblog reader, Winston, who is an expert on the subject and all things climate related explains that:

“The stuff you see is smog (smoke+fog) and it usually happens for your area [the West of Singapore] from May-Oct thanks to the prevailing Southwest monsoon winds, especially in the early morning when there usually is a lower atmospheric inversion. However, during other times of the year, the gunk you breathe in goes to Sumatra instead…talk about trans-boundary pollution :)”

Essentially, even without the haze where smoke from forest fires gets blown to Singapore causing air quality to drop, we normally have our own industrial air pollution to deal with. It’s both blown by the same types of winds – thanks to the southwest monsoon winds. But if what Winston says is true then Sumatra is having to deal with air pollution contributed by us on all other times of the year! And to think here we are sitting bitching about the haze and they never said anything?

Photo taken from Sentosa of the Western end of Singapore.

But I guess that is the case for all “transboundary” issues – no one country’s pollution or environmental degradation is limited to their own small state boundaries. It usually has greater impact on other people who never saw what hit them! We all have bigger footprints than the tiny feet we see on ourselves.

The funniest thing was, I always thought the foggy mornings near my house was very romantic. It looks as if the area is shrouded by mist. Very pretty. But now that I saw the scene from Jurong Island, I’m beginning to think this is like the black widow – beautiful but deadly.

If you looked at the PSI reading for this month and last month by NEA, you can see that the West usually has a higher reading that borders on moderate (instead of good). This is of course determined by whether it rained that day or not. However, smog is not haze and we should be looking at the Sulphur Dioxide content in the air instead as smog is caused by a mixture of smoke and sulphur dioxide. For example, the 16 June reading, the west has a sulphur dioxide content of 21 while the central area only has 4!

Naturally, the government knew that industrial pollution is a problem. The solution was to alienate the industry to a far end of the island where there will be less residential areas. However, the island is so small that you cannot really escape from having to live near industrial area. Besides, I live in residences that were originally built to accommodate workers who work near the industrial estates. But now the entire Jurong West extension is even further within the bowels of the industrial area even though most of it is moved to the islands but wind blows and changes direction.

View from my kitchen. Compare the visibility of the building right in front of me and the buildings across the road on the right.

So what I am really curious about is – how does your morning air look like?

If you live in the west or just anywhere on the island, take a photo of how the air around you looks like in the morning, preferably before 8am. Is it foggy? Misty? smoggy? or clear beautiful with sunlight everywhere?

Once you have taken the photo, upload it on flickr and tag it “singaporesmog“. Do write a bit on the location, the time, and where it looks the smoggiest. If theres no smog near you, I want to see them too since I’ll probably never see Pasir Ris or Tampines before 8am in the morning!

1 Comment so far

  1. Samson (unregistered) on June 18th, 2007 @ 10:50 pm

    You idiot into pollution?

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