Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Confusing The People

The National Environment Agency (NEA) website was supposed to clear the air about concerns regarding the assessment of the haze danger. It turns out to be another exercise in semantics to cover up their attempts at obfuscation.

To debunk charges that the Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) do not take PM2.5  readings into account, NEA claims "PM10 would also capture what is captured in the PM2.5 readings."

Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets. Some particles are large enough to be seen, such as soot or smoke, others are so small they can only be detected with an electron microscope. Particles less than 10 micrometers in diameter (PM10) pose a health concern because they can be inhaled into and accumulate in the respiratory system. Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) pose the greater health risk, as their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair) enable the fine particles to lodge deeply into the lungs.

There has to be good reason for the separate PM2.5 standard, if a PM10 measurement suffices. When NEA says the PM10 count also includes PM2.5 particulates, it is like saying a 6.9 million population is sustainable for Singapore, and miss out on the crucial number of foreigners included in their master plan. Apples are not oranges.

And did Tan Tock Seng Hospital overcharge by pricing the N95 masks at $60 for a box of 20? If not, why did they decide to bring the price down to $50? We bought our "branded" 3M 8210 mask from Watsons at $2.50 per piece, without benefit of quantity discount. Why did a subsidised government institution charge the public an equal or higher price than a private commercial entity? We know they peg ministerial salaries to the private sector, we know they linked public housing prices to the private sector, but N95 masks?

As for the PSI reading of 393 in a screen capture, NEA insists there had been no editing or deleting of the PSI reading on the website. Foreign Affairs and Law Minister K. Shanmugam acknowledged at a community event that with so many air-quality figures, it can be confusing. "Unfortunately, there has been some deliberate misinformation put out in other media sources, I think, in an attempt to confuse people." He said it was not done by the Government, but your opinion may differ.


  1. Fedup Singaporean6/26/2013 10:03 AM

    Did you watch NEA's Deputy Chief on CNA at 8pm last night? It will give you an idea what NEA's management is like :( a very sad face.

    1. Dumb n Dumber NEA6/26/2013 12:28 PM

      His short explanation is no explanation.
      All he said was PM2.5is a sub index of PM10. But what happens when PM2.5 is higher than the PM10 which was consistently the case during haze. Who needs their simplified data? What people need are hourly spot data! They just don't get it..

      For the best explanation, go here

    2. "They just don't get it."

      please, if they deliberately don't want to get it , nothing can make them get it , so please don't treat as they are ignorant.

      "And did Tan Tock Seng Hospital overcharge by pricing the N95 masks at $60 for a box of 20? If not, why did they decide to bring the price down to $50? We bought our "branded" 3M 8210 mask from Watsons at $2.50 per piece, without benefit of quantity discount."

      You think the hospital is the only one ? How about government charging at highly markup price that cannot be scrutinized publicly , and all done privately and behind the scene ? When the government give you free mask, can we know how much the government pay for it, and how much it charging the public with public monies ? Will it be another case of $2 party-linked company buying low and selling high to the public ? With such dismay track record of accountability and transparency , better prepare for worst case.

    3. Just to clarify. The PM2.5, PM10, PSI data at is pulled from data posted by NEA. So the PSI shown on aqicn is also a three-hourly average which matches what is shown on NEA website.

      PM10 consist of all particulate smaller than 10 micron; PM2.5 consist of all particulate smaller than 2.5 micron per cubic volume of air. The reason why PM2.5 index is higher than PM10 index is because a bigger scale factor is applied.

      The reason why advanced nation such as US focus on PM2.5 is because it causes more damage to health than bigger particles which our lungs are capable to filter out. PM2.5 stays longer in the air and travels further too.

    4. This comment has been removed by the author.

    5. PM2.5, PM1.0 etc. are indeed subsets of the PM10 data. So technically, it's not wrong to say that SG's PSI index readings are broadly inclusive of PM2.5 data, even though the PSI figures are derived from PM10 measurements, & PM2.5 readings are not included in the PSI calculation.

      However, what the SG State conveniently sideswipes is that PM10 concentration readings provide no indication of the proportions of particulate sizes filtered through the PM10 filters.

      Depending on the particulate pollutants involved, a sampling of PM10 particulates may very well consist of 85% particulate matter sized 2.5 µm & smaller, & 15% particulate matter of larger sizes. This is why separate PM2.5 measurements are required to provide a more accurate picture of particulate content in the air.

      As the saying goes: The Devil is in the details. And typically, it is details that the SG State likes to sweep under the carpet, hoping that the presumably-ignorant masses will not notice.



      More useful than waiting for MOH directives.

  2. As you said,you can see smoke (coming out from the officials).The ineptitude is there for all to see. The mandarin system devised by you know who will bring down this little red dot as the mandarins in Imperial China did. Semantics and cleverness but no wisdom.

  3. Tip of iceberg.

  4. I say the smoke they throw us worst than the haze from Indonesia.
    At least, there is a PSI, whether a 24 hrs or a 3 hrs PSI or even a PM2.5 reading with regards the haze. Nevermind whether that PSI did for did not have PM2.5 taken into account.

    As for the smoke these guys from the MEWR, there is no US Environmental Agency standard to nail down its toxicity. All I can say is, that they are bad, very bad. Life threatening? Debatable.

  5. Yet another "exercise in semantics to cover up their attempts at obfuscation" is how NEA-MEWR repeatedly emphasizes that the PSI was designed by the US EPA, & yet conveniently fails to state that the US EPA had already discarded the PSI in favour of the more indicative AQI back in 1999.

    From post: "As for the PSI reading of 393 in a screen capture, NEA insists there had been no editing or deleting of the PSI reading on the website."

    NEA's website audit trail/log would easily reveal whether the higher figure was deleted/ edited or not. I suppose only NEA & its IT vendor would know.

    I found it odd though that 10pm's PSI figure (regardless of whether it was high or low) was finally published at 11pm ± 5 minutes. Why the significant time lag, when PSI calculations are automated ? Did all of NEA's computers break down at the same time ?

    Equally odd was NEA's subsequent explanation that the 1-hour delay was due to the website apparently crashing due to heavy visitor traffic. I was able to easily access the webpage w/o any issue from time to time between 10pm & 11pm, but somehow NEA couldn't update its webpage ?

    1. // the 1-hour delay was due to the website apparently crashing due to heavy visitor traffic// was the reason offered by Vivian Balakrishnan when queried by the press. The same guy who said the $387 million cost over-run YOG budget was approved by PM Lee Hsien Loong.

  6. Let me ask you a key question.

    How many of the officers in NEA are there because their appointment is really a "political appointment" rather than an appointment based upon the merit of their competence on environmental issues?

  7. Look at the link below.

    19 Jun When the fire alerts has clearly peaked, were the people at NEA sleeping on the job?

    21 June The wind took 2 days to blow into SG, and we got the highest PSI 401 climb

    24 Jun 3 days later, the Govt distribute N95 masks to all 115 NTUC outlets.

    If this was a chemical warfare, half the population would have been smoked to death. Between 19th and 24 Jun, 6 solid days have passed before most people could get their hands on the masks. Most people can judge for themselves if the government has acted promptly.

    * the location map also detailed clearly those fires coming out from the (non)concession lands, and once again, it would be utterly foolish for sinar mas and the likes to deny their complicity.

  8. About the air pollution phenomenon in Singapore, the Straits Times reports:

    The 24-hour average concentration of PM2.5, which is very fine particulate matter, was 232-292.

    That 24-hour average level is 6.6 to 8.3 times the 1-hour level that violates EPA 24-hour standards! Gasps!

  9. Remember for all: for moderate air quality when it comes to PM2.5, the upper limit for PM2.5 is 35 ug/m3, corresponding to "moderate". Above this concentration, its unhealthy zone.

    To show the NEA is devilishly cunning and not even strictly correct, all you need to assume is that if the air is totally filled with PM2.5 or smaller particles and nothing bigger, then using the US government website, you will get a far higher PSI number. It is not the same conversion scale used for PM10 and PM2.5: in particular, for the same concentration of PM10 and PM2.5, the PSI for PM2.5 is alot higher than the PSI for PM10.

    The NEA's PSI number now presented to public is derived from converting each of the 5 measured concentrations of PM10, CO2, NO, O3, SO into their respective PSI using website's calculator (actually AQI rather than PSI, is the term used by US govt website From there, NEA chooses of the highest of the 5 numbers as the PSI to show the public. Though they also measure the concentration of PM2.5, they do not convert the PM2.5 measured concentration into PSI(PM2.5) and then choosing the maximum PSI number among the 6 pollutants (PM10, CO2, NO, O3, SO, PM2.5). Most would agree this is more than selectively presenting what's good to hear, it's devilishly cunning because man on the street without knowledge of the different conversion scales for PM10 and PM2.5, would assume the first "takes into account" the second.


    The NEA has 11 ambient air-quality testing stations here, but researchers here say it is not enough to work at improving air quality.

    Dr Erik Velasco, a researcher with the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology Centre for Environmental Sensing And Modelling, said during last month’s Better Air Quality conference here that Singapore was far from being a smoky and polluted industrial city, ‘but with the lack of publicly available air-quality data, we can’t conclude that Singapore has clean air.’

    He said publicly available air-quality data, such as that made available by the US Environmental Protection Agency in real time, will enable scientists to pinpoint pollution sources and work out ways to clear the air.

  11. Call 1800-Be Stupid6/26/2013 9:10 PM

    The next time our politicians tell us to adapt to bad air again, he might as well tell us all to grow long nose hair.

  12. How or why the NEA sent a Senior Staff who seemed to know little or nothing about the Haze or about Weather to the CNA Programme is beyond me. How he holds the Very Senior Appointment at NEA is just as baffling as he definitely got everyone watching the Programme confused or even lost about effects of haze to beings and the environment.
    All we got from him was his colleague(s) said this or that. Such irresponsible way in presentation made it very hard to have faith and trust in the organizations they are running.

  13. how do these people live? can they sleep at night? do they not think that they will die very uncomfortably for all he shit they have created? all the money can make up for a very horrible death?

  14. If the haze comes back again, what does that mean?

    1) Our PAP Govt is both hopeless & helpless
    2) Both our Foreign & Environment Ministers can be fired
    3) Our country can declare war on Indonesia as what one yaya papaya Minister has stressed that we can't allow our air to be polluted by another country?
    4) All of the above

  15. Our Pap leaders should believe in karma. OUR Shit Times reported that the haze is caused by corruption. Has to be true.

    But it did not report that a lot of their corrupted monies eventually find their way to Spore Just like the haze is haunting us year after year. SO who should we be blaming? Our greedy leaders?