Singapore air pollution soars to 'very unhealthy' levels

SINGAPORE - Singapore's air pollution level rose to "very unhealthy" levels late on Wednesday, with the main pollution index hitting the highest on record, as smoke from Indonesian forest fires enveloped the city-state.

The Pollution Standards Index (PSI) soared to 290 at 9:00 p.m. local time (1300 GMT), up from 190 just an hour earlier. A PSI reading above 300 indicates "hazardous" air quality and 201-300 means "very unhealthy".

The 290 level is also above the previous 226 record reached in Singapore in 1997 when smog from Indonesian forest fires disrupted shipping and air travel across Southeast Asia.

The illegal burning of forests to clear land for palm oil plantations is a recurring problem in Indonesia, particularly during the annual dry season from June to September.

Here are the hourly PSI readings for Wednesday, June 19, according to the National Environment Agency.

Time PSI reading
1pm 152
2pm 170
3pm 172
4pm 158
5pm 146
6pm 144
7pm 161
8pm 190
9pm 290
10pm --

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