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  • Robert Ho
    Netizen Jack rebuts MEWR [image: DMCA.com] June 26th, 2013 | Author:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jun 26, 2013
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      Netizen Jack rebuts MEWR

      I refer to the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources’ (MEWR) rebuttal [Link] of my article, “NEA smokes Singaporeans with dinosaur-age PSI readings”.

      The rest of the long article is validated

      The article [Link] is a long one yet MEWR has only found one thing to pick on, that I accuse NEA of not taking PM2.5 into consideration when calculating PSI. This is a tacit admission by MEWR that everything else in the long article is true.

      In particular, under the heading “For the mathematically inclined”, I said, after making some calculations:

      This means there was a big jump in the 1-hour PSI of exactly 333 from 7am to 10am. Although we do not know the exact 1-hour PSI value for 7am (which we have seen is impossible to calculate), since everyone knows the sky was somewhat hazy, we can safely assume it to have been about 138 which means the 1-hour PSI for 10am was 138 + 333 = 471!

      So, the 1-hour PSI readings for yesterday morning were likely in the region of 87 (4am), 90 (5am), 105 (6am), 138 (7am), 231 (8am), 399 (9am), 471 (10am), 330 (11am), 402 (12pm). This means the “real PSI” peaked around 471 around 10am!

      Surely there must be some “foreign trash talent” in MEWR who can dispute my calculations and the statements in bold above.

      It is a serious thing to say ‘the “real PSI” peaked around 471 around 10am’ when the official data only says 401 at 12 pm. If it is not true, NEA and MEWR should dispute it. Better still, release the 1-hour PSI numbers for that morning and show if “87 (4am), 90 (5am), 105 (6am), 138 (7am), 231 (8am), 399 (9am), 471 (10am), 330 (11am), 402 (12pm)” is not true.

      In the interest of transparency, NEA and MEWR should release the 1-hour PSI numbers for the morning of 22 June. Will they release these numbers? If they do not, it will be because my calculations are uncomfortably close to the truth.

      NEA changed their PSI webpage quietly after my article appeared

      My article appeared on the TR Emeritus (TRE) website at 1 pm, Saturday 22 June. This can be seen from the fact that the first 3 comments appeared at 1:04, 1:08 and 1:09 pm [Link].

      At about 6 pm of the same day, NEA changed their PSI webpage, as the excitement on thislink shows.

      I am not saying NEA changed their PSI webpage because of my article, I am only saying that it did so 5 hours after my article appeared on TRE.

      The change was done quietly, without fanfare and without prior notice.

      A netizen called dunicorn on hardwardzone was not impressed, saying at 6:27 pm:

      Seriously, i am not an opposition person nor pro-PAP. This haze incident made me lose all confidence for the current group handling.

      They can update and push for their website to revamp in less than 24 hours just to “support” the absurd theory for a Fu person and yet they cant do more to help the suffering populace in more than 48 hours like distributing masks to old folks home, schools etc. they have to WAIT till Monday and let the people suffer in the meantime just so the Grassroots got time to distribute. They can do that today !

      I dont blame them for the haze. i blame them for the delays and the incompetance of executing measures. To the point they cant even come up with a decent reason/excuse that is intellectually acceptable. NOW THAT is SCARY

      One of the changes made was that the PSI formula was gone!

      Now a TRE reader called Peter wrote a spirited defence of my article against MEWR [Link]. I do not know Peter and have not read his article thoroughly but I notice that he has appended NEA’s PSI formula which I simply cannot find on NEA’s revamped PSI webpage. (Peter, if you are reading this, please tell me how you found the formula.) Better than appending the formula, he has provided a link to it: [LINK].

      Actually I have had the PSI formula all along. I saved it to my hard disk some time ago from NEA’s old PSI webpage. I too have a link to it: [LINK]. The link still works (for now). Peter’s link differs from mine, but the pdf document housing the formula is the same, as you can see.

      When the new webpage appeared, I searched in vain for the PSI formula, not because I did not have it, but because I wanted to know if it was still publicly available. When I could not find it, I shook my head and said, “Alamak, these people are trying to hide the formula from the public.”

      Of course it may be that the formula is somewhere out there but I just missed it even after much searching. After all, Peter has it. But I must say I have tried many times over the past few days to locate it on NEA’s website without success. So perhaps Peter, like me, discovered it before the change. (Peter, over to you.)

      Anyway, my point is NEA’s previously published PSI formula does not take into account PM2.5 but is solely based on PM10. Look at the formula. Where is PM2.5 in it? There is none. There is PM10 as you can see, but no PM2.5 component.

      This is one of the defences Peter has raised on my behalf. In this regard, he has read my mind. It was exactly what I had in mind when I penned my article.

      MEWR claims PM10 includes PM2.5

      MEWR says that PM10 includes PM2.5. Technically, that is correct and I said as much in the article:

      PM10 (pronounced “P M ten”) stands for Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometres.


      PM10 is also called “respirable suspended particle” or RSP since RSP are particles with a diameter of up to 10 µm.

      However, you must bear in mind that PM10, although it includes PM2.5, is much different from PM2.5.

      PM10 includes a lot of stuff between 2.5 µm and 10 µm and I said as much in the article:

      The big particles are between 2.5 and 10 micrometres in size i.e. 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair. These particles are called PM10 (pronounced “P M ten”) which stands for Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometres.

      There is a very big difference between PM2.5 and PM10, so much so that the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) draws a difference. EPA says [Link]:

      EPA groups particle pollution into two categories:

      • “Inhalable coarse particles,” such as those found near roadways and dusty industries, are larger than 2.5 micrometers and smaller than 10 micrometers in diameter.

      • “Fine particles,” such as those found in smoke and haze, are 2.5 micrometers in diameter and smaller. These particles can be directly emitted from sources such as forest fires, or they can form when gases emitted from power plants, industries and automobiles react in the air.

      EPA says further [Link]:

      Health studies have shown a significant association between exposure to fine particles and premature mortality. Other important effects include aggravation of respiratory and cardiovascular disease (as indicated by increased hospital admissions, emergency room visits, absences from school or work, and restricted activity days), lung disease, decreased lung function, asthma attacks, and certain cardiovascular problems such as heart attacks and cardiac arrhythmia. Individuals particularly sensitive to fine particle exposure include older adults, people with heart and lung disease, and children.

      Sources of fine particles include all types of combustion activities(motor vehicles, power plants, wood burning, etc.) and certain industrial processes. Particles with diameters between 2.5 and 10 micrometers are referred to as “coarse.” Sources of coarse particles include crushing or grinding operations, and dust from paved or unpaved roads.

      In other words, a clear distinction must be drawn between fine particles (i.e. PM2.5) and coarse particles (i.e. particles that are larger than 2.5 µm and smaller than 10 µm).

      Since MEWR and NEA love to remind Singaporeans that our PSI model is based on EPA’s (albeit discarded) PSI model, what EPA says must carry much weight.

      Now MEWR tries to smoke us by saying that since PM2.5 is a component of PM10, any increase in PM2.5 translates into an increase in PM10. How true this is, is determined by the answer to the question: what percentage does PM2.5 form of PM10?

      It appears the only study that answers this question was made by Thompson G. Pace who wrote a paper called “Examination of the Multiplier Used to Estimate PM2.5 Fugitive Dust Emissions from PM10″ [Link]. He concluded that “Overall these data support a ratio of 0.06 and 0.11 with a mid-point around 0.1. The new data and reanalysis of the old data seem to converge around a multiplier of 0.1, or 10%, when averaged across all source categories.” The paper was presented at an EPA conference in Las Vegas in 2005.

      Unfortunately, there is a problem in adapting this paper to Singapore’s circumstances and the problem is a large one. You see, “fugitive dust” – the subject of Mr Pace’s paper – is usually not a product of burning. Fugitive dust is PM suspended in the air by wind action and human activities; it has not come out of a vent or chimney stack and is usually not the result of burning. Fugitive dust particles are composed mainly of soil minerals but can also contain sea salt, pollen, spores, tire particles, etc.

      Hence, Mr Pace’s 10% ratio for PM2.5 to PM10 may not apply in Singapore’s case where the cause of the haze is burning. But I thought I would mention it anyway for it is one of very few works in the English language that addresses this question.

      Perhaps a better way to look at the question is as follows.

      On NEA’s website, it says:

      The USEPA guideline for computation of PSI is based on a 24-hour average of PM10 concentration levels, among other pollutants. PM10 is the dominant pollutant during haze episodes.

      Insofar as it means that, out of the 5 components: sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, ozone and PM10, PM10 is the main component of haze, the statement is true.

      But if it is taken to mean that, as compared to PM2.5, PM10 is the main component of haze, the statement is false because as we have seen earlier, “wood burning” and “forest fires” create mainly PM2.5, not PM10. In other words, it is far more accurate to say, “PM2.5 is the dominant pollutant during haze episodes.”

      Why then does NEA cling on stubbornly to PSI which is based on PM10? I suspect it is because NEA does not possess the equipment to accurately measure PM2.5. It is one thing to possess monitors suitable for measuring PM10, it is quite another thing to have sensitive enough equipment to capture and measure PM2.5. After all, it is a known fact that “the most difficult particle to collect are those between 1 and 3 microns” [Link].

      I suspect this is the real reason for NEA persisting with PSI, because all these years, they have not modernised their equipment. As if to put an exclamation mark on my suspicion, look at NEA’s PSI formula: it is a poor photocopy and the text is slanting!

      NEA’s advisory takes into account both PM10 and PM2.5

      NEA goes on to say in their rebuttal of my article:

      NEA’s air quality health advisories take into account both the 24-hour PSI and the 24-hour PM2.5. This is very clear from the advisories that were issued on both 23 and 24 June 2013. Notwithstanding that the 24-hour PSI forecast was in the “Moderate” range for those two days, the health advisories issued corresponded to the higher “Unhealthy” range because we expected the 24-hour PM2.5 levels to stay at elevated levels, and this posed some risk to the susceptible groups. If NEA had considered the 24-hour PSI forecast only, the health advisory would have been lower, at the “Moderate” range.

      Therefore, contrary to the tremeritus article’s claim, NEA does take PM2.5 into account in its assessments.

      TRE published my article on 22 June, but NEA’s advisories came out on 23 and 24 June, sotak pakai (Malay for does not count, inapplicable).

      Actually the truth of the matter is far more damning: there was no health advisory for PM2.5 concentrations before 22 June 2013. There were only 24-hour PM2.5 readings which NEA published three times a day – at 8 am, 12 pm and 4 pm. And there was a health advisory for PM10 readings only.

      It was only when NEA published their new PSI webpage after TRE published my article that another health advisory – for PM2.5 – appeared. Even so, the new PM2.5 advisory does not match up to American AQI standards for it is missing a crucial category: 301-500 Hazardous!

      It is also missing the American AQI’s useful colour coding scheme. Most importantly, it is missing the American AQI’s convenient descriptor: Good, Moderate, USG (Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups), Unhealthy, Very Unhealthy, Hazardous.

      Last but not least, take a look at NEA’s Historical PSI Readings for 20 June 2013 [Link]. This is when the 3-hour PSI hit a record 400 at 11 am and another record 401 at 12 pm. What do you now see? 169-196 Overall!

      Now tell me NEA and MEWR are not trying to smoke Singaporeans!


      Related: NEA smokes Singaporeans with dinosaur-age PSI readings

      ---------- Forwarded message ----------
      From: Robert Ho <robert.ic019@...>
      Date: 23 June 2013 10:29


      NEA ’smokes’ Singaporeans with dinosaur-age PSI readings

      DMCA.com  June 22nd, 2013 |  Author: Contributions

      Singapore’s 3-hourly Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) smashed the previous record of 371 set on Thursday (20 Jun) to hit a new high of 401 yesterday (21 Jun) at 12pm.

      On Wednesday, the record was 321, set at 10pm. On 3 consecutive days, the PSI set 3 records which means the haze is not only the worst in Singapore’s history, it is getting worse by the day!

      To add insult to injury, the National Environment Agency (NEA) in charge of measuring the amount of pollutants in the air appears to be ’smoking’ (pun intended; Singlish for bluffing, deceiving, misleading) Singaporeans.

      Using PM10 instead of PM2.5 to calculate PSI

      NEA currently bases its “PSI readings” on PM10 only. As it says on its website, “The 3hr PSI readings are calculated based on PM10 concentrations only” (‘NEA’s PSI webpage‘).

      What is PM10? Airborne pollutants come in big sizes and small. The big particles are between 2.5 and 10 micrometres in size i.e. 25 to 100 times thinner than a human hair. These particles are called PM10 (pronounced “P M ten”) which stands for Particulate Matter up to 10 micrometres.

      Particulate matter – also known as atmospheric particulate matter or simply particulates – are tiny pieces of solid or liquid matter associated with the earth’s atmosphere.

      The symbol for micrometre is µm (a symbol found on NEA’s website). 1 micrometre or 1 micron is one-millionth of a metre.

      PM10 is also called “respirable suspended particle” or RSP since RSP are particles with a diameter of up to 10 µm.

      What is PM2.5? You guessed it, PM2.5 (pronounced “P M two point five”) as in Particulate Matter up to 2.5 µm in size are the relatively small airborne pollutants.

      PM2.5 is also known as fine particles since fine particles have a diameter of 2.5 µm or less.

      Difference between PM10 and PM2.5

      Fine particles i.e. PM2.5 are lighter and stay in the air longer and travel further than PM10. PM10 can stay in the air for minutes or hours while PM2.5 can stay in the air for days or weeks. PM10 can travel as little as 1 km or as much as 50 km. PM2.5 can travel much further – many hundreds of kilometres.

      Here is the important question. Which is more dangerous: PM2.5 or PM10?

      When you inhale, you breathe in air along with any particles that are in the air. The air and the particles travel into your respiratory system i.e. your lungs and airway. Along the way, the particles can stick to the sides of your airway or travel deeper into your lungs.

      The further the particles go, the worse the effect.

      Bigger particles are more likely to stick to the sides or get wedged into one of the narrow passages deep in the lung. Smaller particles can pass through the smaller airways. Because PM2.5 travels deeper into the lungs and is made up of substances that are more toxic e.g. heavy metals and cancer causing organic compounds, it is far more dangerous than PM10. PM2.5 particles are so fine they can even enter the bloodstream.

      So, because PM2.5 can penetrate deep into the lungs and is more toxic, measuring it is considered a more accurate reflection of air quality than simply measuring PM10.

      The PSI readings that are updated every hour, on the hour, on NEA’s website do not take into account PM2.5 but are based solely on PM10. The hourly PSI readings that appear in the media, such as the screaming headline in Thursday’s (20 Jun) edition of The Straits Times: “RECORD PSI AT 10 PM 321 Plans in place if haze worsens” are, make no mistake, PM10 readings.

      Is PSI obsolete?

      PSI is just a name for an air quality index. The name is not as important as the computation behind it. In Singapore’s case, the computation is obsolete. Singapore’s PSI is based on an American model developed in the late 60’s. In 1999, with advances in technology and knowledge, the Americans replaced the PSI with the Air Quality Index (AQI) to incorporate new PM2.5 and ozone standards.

      The Chinese experience

      To illustrate how unpopular and antiquated the PSI is, consider that even China has switched to providing PM2.5 AQI readings [Link].

      In the past, China gave only PM10 PSI readings, which the Chinese citizens rejected because they knew from the air they were breathing that the reading had to be much higher. So the Chinese people turned to the website of the American Embassy in Beijing for both hourly PM2.5 readings and hourly AIQ numbers based on those readings. This caused the Chinese government no end of embarrassment, so finally they too issued PM2.5 readings and AQI numbers according to their interpretation. Beginning early 2012, hourly air quality updates are now available online for more than 70 Chinese cities.

      To be sure, the Chinese AQI interprets data somewhat less stringently than the American AQI, but it is still way better than the relic which is the PSI for the simple reason that the AQI incorporates PM2.5 whereas the PSI does not.

      The Chinese experience mirrors what Singaporeans felt on Thursday morning (22 Jun) when they knew instinctively that the PSI could not be so low (‘Netizens accuse NEA of grossly understating PSI readings‘). Like the Chinese, Singaporeans distrust the government’s data and are searching for better quality data.

      So this is the first way NEA ’smokes’ Singaporeans, by using an antiquated and inferior air quality indicator.

      Giving 3-hour average numbers instead of 1-hour spot numbers

      The second way NEA ’smokes’ Singaporeans is by giving out 3-hour average numbers instead of 1-hour spot numbers. This has the effect of smoothening out PSI numbers so that the real high is never known to the public. When the PSI hit a supposed high of 401 at 12pm yesterday (21 Jun), you can bet your last N95 mask that the real number was even higher.

      How much higher you might ask? For the answer, we have to look at the actual 3-hour PSI posted on NEA’s website and study the “math” behind it.

      For the mathematically inclined


      A = (a + b + c)/3 where A = 3-hr PSI at 12pm, a = 1-hr PSI at 12pm, b = 1-hr PSI at 11am, c = 1-hr PSI at 10am

      B = (b + c + d)/3 where B = 3-hr PSI at 11am, b = 1-hr PSI at 11am, c = 1-hr PSI at 10am, d = 1-hr PSI at 9am

      C = (c + d + e)/3 where C = 3-hr PSI at 10am, c = 1-hr PSI at 10am, d = 1-hr PSI at 9am, e = 1-hr PSI at 8am

      D = (d + e + f)/3 where D = 3-hr PSI at 9am, d = 1-hr PSI at 9am, e = 1-hr PSI at 8am, f = 1-hr PSI at 7am

      E = (e + f + g)/3 where E = 3-hr PSI at 8am, e = 1-hr PSI at 8am, f = 1-hr PSI at 7am, g = 1-hr PSI at 6am

      NEA is very sneaky because if you want to calculate the 1-hour PSI at any time (what every Singaporean wants to know) from the above, you will find it is mathematically impossible.

      A, B, C, D, E are known values, being “PSI readings” published by NEA every hour on the hour. However, a, b, c, d, e, f, g – the 1-hour PSI values – are all unknowns. To calculate exactly the 1-hour PSI values i.e. a, b, c, d, e, f, g, there must be at least as many simultaneous equations as there are unknowns. Unfortunately, there are too few simultaneous equations and too many unknowns. For example, if you take the first 3 equations above involving A, B and C, you get 3 equations and 5 unknowns; if you take all 5 equations involving A, B, C, D and E, you get 5 equations and 7 unknowns. So, what Singaporeans call “the real PSI” remains a secret.

      To prove “the real PSI” remains a secret, let us assume that the 3-hour PSI is a constant 180 throughout the day. It is tempting to think that the 1-hour PSI must also be constant i.e. 180 throughout, but no, it could be that as well as a recurring 170, 190, 180, 170, 190, 180, 170, 190, 180, etc.

      Nevertheless there is useful information to glean from all the 3-hour PSI readings, such as:

      A – B = (a-d)/3

      B – C = (b-e)/3

      C – D = (c-f)/3, etc

      Now C – D = (c-f)/3 implies c – f = 3(C – D). This is where it gets interesting.

      Consider the 3-hour PSI readings for yesterday morning (21 Jun) from 4am to 12pm. They are 104 (4am), 96 (5am), 94 (6am), 111 (7am), 158 (8am), 256 (9am), 367 (10am), 400 (11am), 401 (12pm).

      Substituting C = 367 and D = 256 into c – f = 3(C – D), we get c – f = 3(367 – 256) = 3(111) = 333. This means there was a big jump in the 1-hour PSI of exactly 333 from 7am to 10am. Although we do not know the exact 1-hour PSI value for 7am (which we have seen is impossible to calculate), since everyone knows the sky was somewhat hazy, we can safely assume it to have been about 138 which means the 1-hour PSI for 10am was 138 + 333 = 471!

      So, the 1-hour PSI readings for yesterday morning were likely in the region of 87 (4am), 90 (5am), 105 (6am), 138 (7am), 231 (8am), 399 (9am), 471 (10am), 330 (11am), 402 (12pm). This means the “real PSI” peaked around 471 around 10am!

      Data Removal

      The third way in which NEA ’smokes’ Singaporeans is by denying them information.

      If you visit NEA’s website just after midnight, you will be shocked to find just one 3-hour PSI reading staring you in the face. If you want to know what the PSI reading was an hour ago at 11pm, or 2 hours ago at 10pm, sorry hor, who ask you to click so late, why you never click earlier, you die your business.

      You search in vain for the missing data but alas, it has left the public domain and is safely in the pocket of the PAP. Old PSI readings are not archived or cached. This is to emasculate Singaporeans, for knowledge is power.


      The fourth way NEA ’smokes’ Singaporeans is by confusing them.

      Look at NEA’s PSI webpage [Link]. See how the large blue words “PM2.5 Readings” take almost centrestage?

      You would think from a quick glance that the numbers beneath “PM2.5 readings” are… PM2.5 readings! How deceptive!

      It is only upon reading the “fine print” after the numbers that you realise they are “PSI readings based on PM10 concentrations only”.

      Another way NEA sows confusion is by calling PSI numbers “PSI readings” 3 times on its PSI page [Link]. Does NEA even know what it is talking about, one wonders.

      Do PM Lee and Ministers Shanmugam and Vivian know what they are talking about? Or are they all charlatans?

      PSI is not a reading. PSI is a number, a value, a calculation derived from a formula and based on measurements or readings.

      The amount of PM2.5 or PM10 in the air is a reading. The amount of sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and ozone in the air, they are readings. These five readings or measurements are periodically fed into the AQI or PSI formula to obtain the AQI or PSI number, value or figure.


      The American AQI is the gold standard for air quality indicators. It takes into account hazardous PM2.5 particulates on an hourly basis and interprets the data stringently. Singapore should junk the outdated PSI asap and adopt the latest American model.

      For now though, as long as the PAP is sleeping, Singaporeans will have to be content with the PM2.5 values that NEA publishes 3 times a day – at 8am, 12pm and 4pm – and figure out how dangerous or safe the air is using this excellent AQI Calculator.


      >>>>>>>>>>  TO HELP ME, COMPLETE THESE STATEMENTS, THANKS:  http://roberthorequestforstatements.blogspot.com/

      My wife, an accountant, then a manager in an MNC drawing a 5-figure salary before she retired, can confirm that I write the Truth in all these.  <<<<<<<<<<









      LEE Kuan Yew, LEE Hsien Loong, Tony TAN, HO Ching corruptions and theft of billions:

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