Increased haze levels in Singapore are “significantly associated” with a higher risk of dying, a study has been found by researchers from several health care institutions.
The study, released in the academic journal Atmosphere, examined the connection between the number of fatalities in 2010 and 2015 and the daily average Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) in Singapore.
The research team found that when the PSI was in the moderate and unhealthy levels, there was a higher mortality risk— but they emphasized that they had not established a causal link between the haze and higher death rates.
“Increased PSI has been correlated significantly with higher mortality risk,” the study claims. The PSI is one of the major air quality controls used by the city-state authorities. When the PSI reading is between 0 and 50, air quality is considered good.
A PSI reading between 51 and 100 indicates good air quality, while anything from 101 to 200 is considered unhealthy.
Read also: Haze or not, in Singapore Readings from 201 to 300 we can do more for clean air, showing very poor air quality.
In September 2019, PSI readings in Singapore crossed into the lower unhealthy range ranges on several days.
Researchers said the correlation observed in the study between air pollution and mortality may probably be due to increased infections of the respiratory tract, allergic reactions, and effects on patients with cancer and heart disease.
The study’s lead authors, released on Dec 20, 2019, were Dr Andrew Ho Fu Wah, a resident of the emergency medicine program at Singhealth; Prof. Marcus Ong of the Duke-NUS Medical School; and Ms Zheng Huili, a Health Promotion Board biostatistician.
The research team also included some nine other healthcare professionals and researchers from various organizations, including the Singapore University of Technology and Design, the Singapore General Hospital, the National University Health System, and Tan Tock Seng Hospital.
The study found that the risk of dying rises at moderate to unhealthy rates in the short-term after exposure to haze.
Nonetheless, this adverse effect on mortality rates that lasted more than seven days after exposure to haze contaminants at those levels was not found by the report.
Researchers said this may be the first research in Singapore to link the South-East Asian haze with mortality.