What is PM 2.5?

I keep getting funny looks yesterday afternoon, and even today!

The fashion accessory that's losing popularity!
The fashion accessory that’s losing popularity!
It’s because i’m one of the very few people still wearing a mask. Since yesterday till now, I’ve come across about 8 people wearing a normal mask, and 2 people wearing what appears to be a N95 grade mask. I understand why I’m looking out of place though… it’s because the skies are blue, and visibility has more than doubled.
However, just because we can’t see the haze, doesn’t mean that the haze has completely disappeared!
There’s a growing awareness of something called PM2.5 – I have mentioned it briefly here, and explained about this Air Quailty Index (AQI) measurements and advisory, compared to the more commonly referred pollution index, the PSI readings that the National Environmental Agency, Singapore have been measuring.
For those who are still searching for information, PM2.5 refers to the small particles that are 2.5 micrometres in diameter or smaller. These small particles (1/30th the average width of a human hair) can be a result of combustion from motor vehicles, agricultural burning and forest fires.They pose a very serious threat to health, as they are too small for our inbuilt protective mechanisms to fend off. These small particles  may pass through the nose, throat and lungs to affect other organs. I’ve listed some of the symptoms we’ll notice if we have inhaled too much polluted air here. What i do want to highlight is that the most serious effects, include lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality. Also note that because these particles are small, normal masks generally will not protect your lungs from the fine particles in smoke.
If we check the Central Singapore AQI (PM2.5 reading), this website states that the AQI is currently at 155. The PSI reading is 80. The NEA website states that the PSI is 78, and the PM2.5 is 73-94. For the benefit of my health, i’ll still be looking at the 155, as that is still registered in the UNHEALTHY range. (Check this table for reference) If you choose not to be conservative, PM2.5 at 73-94 is still within the moderate range, which means there is a moderate health concern, especially for those sensitive to air pollution.

So what’s next?

Here’s my Top 5 recommendations:

1. Follow closely on the PM2.5 readings, rather than the PM10 (PSI) readings.

2. Wear an N95 mask, if you plan to walk for an extended period of time, or exercise out doors. Though for now, still avoid outdoor activity.

3. Keep windows and doors closed still.

4. Don’t vacuum your house, especially carpets, as it can stir up particles already in your home.

5. Keep hydrated.


+Gary Tho


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