Posted on Oct 02, 2015 by rob.mcbroom
It is now the first week of October and the haze from the forest fires in Indonesia has been around for the better part of the month, and is forecasted to stay around for at least the next month, possibly even until the end of November. This year, the strongest El nino effect on record has compounded the yearly burning of sugarcane crops in Indonesia, causing evacuations and even school closures in Singapore closer to the end of September.
On days when the smoke was really bad, you probably spent the majority of your time indoors and may have even noticed an impact on your, or a family member's health. For example, those with lung conditions may be finding it harder to breathe, while others are noticing itchy eyes and even a somewhat deadened sense of smell or taste. In short, the haze in the air is affecting your health, and not in a good way.
While there are actions being taken to reduce the effects of the haze, the fact of the matter is that it is here to stay, and this will not be the last bout we will see in Singapore. Because lower air quality can have such a negative impact on your health it would be beneficial to take steps to mitigate its impact. Sure, it would be nice to leave for a few weeks to locations with less haze, but for many expats in the city, October is not usually a good time to leave, so you will need to pursue other ways to lessen the impact of haze on your health.
Interestingly, this is an area where mobile technology like apps and web tools can be a massive help. There are a wide variety of apps and web tools out there that have been designed to provide you with valuable information about air pollution in Singapore and ways to mitigate the effects it can have on your health. Because there are so many apps out there, we talked with our staff at Pacific Prime Singapore and asked them which they believe to be most useful. Here are the top five haze and air pollution related apps our staff use:
The official app from Singapore's National Environment Agency. This app provides a wealth of weather-related information including forecasts, and most importantly the current air quality (PSI) based on the average of either the past 3 or 24 hours. What's more, you will also get alerts when severe weather moves in, which can prove useful if you are planning a day out.
2. Asia Air Quality
This is a useful app if you travel around the region on a regular basis. According to the developer, "This app shows the real-Time Air Quality Index (AQI) for more than 2000 stations/cities in Mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Vietnam, India, Malaysia, Thailand, South Korea and Japan." By utilizing local weather stations and measurements you can be sure that the figures are accurate. What sets this app apart from some others in the market, however, is the inclusion of widgets which allow you to place an AQI measurement directly on your phone's home screen; allowing you to view the measurement at a glance - without having to open the app.
Available for free on Google Play (for Android users)
If you are looking for an app that presents air quality measurements in a well-designed and visual manner then Nebulo is a solid choice. Using data from various locations in and around Singapore, along with current temperature, you can quickly get the info you need. For those with an Apple Watch, this app can also show measurements directly on your device. If you have an Android device, you can put a widget on your homescreen to see air quality and temperature without having to open your device. Also, this app will notify you if the quality reaches past a certain point.
4. No BS PSI Estimates
If you have ever looked at the National Environmental Agency's figures and thought to yourself "That seems a little low compared to what I see outside", you may be right and that is because the Agency provides the air pollution measurement based on an average, most commonly the 1 or 3-hour average. This can create some disparity so a group of enterprising developers came up with No BS PSI Readings site. This site presents the actual PSI measurement in Singapore while also comparing it against the 1, 3 and 24-hour average.
This site is free for all users and can be accessed on any device via your Web browser here.
Finally, if you are looking for an app that combines useful information with cute cartoon characters that reflect the current pollution levels, Haze@SG is the app for you. One feature, aside from the cartoons, that sets this app apart from the others is that you can share the current reading on Facebook so that your friends and family can see it too.
Don't forget about Pacific Prime's mobile quote generator
If you are worried about how the current haze is affecting your health, both currently and in the future, or if you are experiencing health issues, it would be a good idea to talk with your doctor. As an expat in the city however, this may not be the cheapest, especially if you go to a private hospital. One thing you can do is secure an international health insurance plan which can offset the costs of care around the world. If you go to our website on your mobile device, or any other device for that matter, you can quickly get a quote for a plan and start the purchase procedure. Check out our quote generator today.