I grew up on a farm on the far north coast of New South Wales and have come to realise just how much I took that fresh country air for granted.
My almost three-year-old daughter and 10-month-old son should not be living in an environment where it is unhealthy for them to be outside. However, that is what life has become here in Singapore due to the impact of pollution from forest fires raging in Indonesia as a result of illegal slash-and-burn clearing for palm oil and paper plantations.
We have lived in Singapore for just over two years and have been living abroad since 2006. Good career prospects for me and my British husband and fantastic regional travel opportunities for our young family made “clean and green” Singapore an easy choice to repatriate to from New York City.
The yearly “haze”, as the polluted air from Indonesian agricultural fires is referred to, was a two week inconvenience in 2013 and 2014 with the pollutant standard index or “PSI” reaching a peak of over 400 (extremely hazardous) in 2013 but for only a short period of time.
This year however, we are entering our ninth week in a row of the PSI ranging from very unhealthy to hazardous levels on an almost daily basis.
It may not be widely reported in Australia however the fires burning in Indonesia as a result of illegal slash-and-burn clearing for palm oil and paper plantations have spread out of control.
A record dry spell and wind direction is contributing to the duration and intensity of the smoky haze that we in Singapore and our neighbouring countries are experiencing this year. Sadly, these conditions are forecast by some to continue until January next year.