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Singapore air quality improves as government says haze to stay

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Air quality improved in Singapore a day after high pollution levels prompted the city state to shut schools and suspend some outdoor events.

[SINGAPORE] Air quality improved in Singapore a day after high pollution levels prompted the city state to shut schools and suspend some outdoor events.

The three-hour pollutant standards index stood at 77 at 11 am, indicating "moderate" air quality. The measure had climbed to a year's high of 334 on Friday morning. A reading exceeding 300 is classified as hazardous.

Smoke from Indonesian forest fires has shrouded Singapore with a layer of haze in the past few weeks. Primary and secondary schools were closed on Friday, a nationwide music test was postponed, and Sports Hub, the city-state's new stadium, suspended all outdoor activities.

A 24-hour gauge of air quality is expected to be in the high end of the "moderate" range and the low end of the "unhealthy" range over the next 12 hours, the National Environment Agency said in a statement on its website at 9 am. The government advised healthy persons to reduce prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical activity, and said those people feeling unwell should seek medical attention.

Singapore on Friday named four Indonesian companies that it says may have contributed to the smoke, adding that it would apply more pressure on palm oil and forestry companies responsible for forest fires.

Investigations aided by meteorological data and satellite imagery showed fires on Indonesian land concessions controlled by PT Rimba Hutani Mas, PT Sebangun Bumi Andalas Wood Industries, PT Bumi Sriwijaya Sentosa and PT Wachyuni Mandira, the Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources said on its website.

The ministry also said it has served Singapore-based Asia Pulp & Paper with a notice for information on measures taken by its subsidiaries and suppliers to put out fires on their Indonesian land concessions.

BLOOMBERG