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Singapore Smog Is Worst in 16 Years as Forests Burn in Asia

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June 18 (Bloomberg) -- Singapore’s air conditions remain at a level categorized as “unhealthy” as the worst smog in 16 years caused by forest fires in the Indonesian island of Sumatra enshrouded parts of the island city and Malaysia.

The city-state’s Pollutant Standards Index indicated 109 at 6 a.m., the National Environment Agency said on its website today. This is a drop from 155 at 10 p.m. last night, the worst level since 1997 when it reached 226, according to the Straits Times.

“The hazy conditions are expected to persist for the next few days,” the agency said on its website. “Weather conditions in the region have become drier and an increase in hotspot activities has been observed mainly over Sumatra region.”

The Malay Peninsula has been plagued for decades by forest fires in Sumatra to the west and Kalimantan on Borneo island to the east, according to S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore. The fires hit a peak in 1997, when haze cost the economies of Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore an estimated $3.5 billion, based on figures published in a report by the Center for International Forestry Research.

Malaysia’s Terengganu and Pahang registered readings of more than 100 on the country’s Air Pollutant Index at 5 p.m. yesterday, according to the country’s Department of Environment. Levels of 101 to 200 in Malaysia and Singapore signal the air is “unhealthy” to breathe.

To contact the reporter on this story: Kyunghee Park in Singapore at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Anand Krishnamoorthy at