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The Star Online: Metro: Central

New way to beat the haze

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

PEOPLE here will have a new, relatively inexpensive way to protect themselves at home if haze returns, as feared in the next few months.

Researchers from the National University of Singapore (NUS) have come up with a new indoor filtration system that can dramatically reduce levels of small toxic particles called PM2.5.

High concentrations of the particles can cause eye and lung irritation in the short term, and could lead to lung and bladder cancer if inhaled over long periods.

The system – which consists of a filter and cover fitted over a fan – can also reduce volatile organic compounds associated with the smell of haze.

The Faculty of Engineering researchers said the system has been tested in homes, offices and hotels.

They even tested it in severe haze conditions, taking it to a classroom in Pekanbaru in Riau, Indonesia in February.

The classroom's PM2.5 level was nine times above the World Health Organisation (WHO) safe limit.

The system reduced the PM2.5 level by about 60% after 90 minutes, and would have lowered it to a safe level in about two hours and fifteen minutes, they said.

Typically, the system can reduce PM2.5 concentrations in a room by up to 85% within 30 to 60 minutes, said the researchers.

"Our goal is to provide everyone in Singapore with affordable protection against PM2.5 exposure at a fraction of the price of a regular air-purifier," said Associate Professor Jeff Obbard, of the university's Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering.

Environment and Water Resources Minister Vivian Balakrishnan has said this year's haze could be even worse than last year's pollution.

This is partly due to the El Nino weather phenomenon – linked to droughts in South-East Asia – that is expected to hit in the second half of the year.

Different versions of the system will be sold online from tomorrow, with delivery from the middle of next month.

Prices start from S$150 (RM383) for a fan, filter and cover package.

Face masks will be sold eventually, and there are plans to sell the products at convenience stores.

Customers can retrofit their own fans for S$50 (RM127), but the filter and cover sets will be available only for fans with 18-inch frames, for a start.

Disposable replacement filters will cost S$30 (RM76) or less each.

During a haze crisis, the filters may have to be changed about once a week. — The Straits Times / Asia News Network

Filipinos drop independence celebration plan after abuse

Posted: 26 May 2014 09:00 AM PDT

Organisers of a Philippine independence celebration have dropped plans to hold it in a busy Singapore shopping district, police said, after an abusive campaign by online commentators opposed to the venue.

The Philippines marks its 116th year of independence on June 12 and a group of Filipino residents in the city-state had initially planned a commemoration event on June 8 for compatriots and Singaporeans at a shopping complex along the busy Orchard Road shopping belt.

Police said organisers, the Pilipino Independence Day Council 2014 (PIDC), had withdrawn their application to hold the event at the Ngee Ann City shopping complex.

"This follows police's advice that there are public order and safety concerns with the venue proposed by PIDC," police said.

It said the organisers had been advised to hold the event at alternative locations, including a free speech park and a convention centre.

Organisers did not immediately respond to a request for comment on whether they would go ahead with the event at a different location. — AFP


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