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N95 masks not certified for children’s use: MOH

SINGAPORE — Children should stay indoors as much as possible during hazy conditions because the N95 masks on the market have not been certified for them, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

SINGAPORE — Children should stay indoors as much as possible during hazy conditions because the N95 masks on the market have not been certified for them, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said yesterday.

It also advised groups who may already suffer from breathing issues or reduced lung capacity to stop using N95 masks if they feel uncomfortable and to consult a doctor.

Speaking at the daily media briefing, Dr Derrick Heng, Group Director of the Public Health Group at the MOH, explained that N95 masks are normally manufactured for industry use.

“On the market, there are these small-sized masks that people have been selling, but these actually have not been certified for use on children ... (the) main concern we have is that the masks don’t fit well for children. For older children, whom the masks fit, it may be suitable for use,” he said.

The MOH yesterday also introduced a new category for persons with chronic lung disease, heart disease or stroke in its general health advisory.

In its latest advisory, it noted that the use of the N95 mask “increases the effort in breathing and may cause discomfort, tiredness or headache. For most people, this is not serious”.

It added: “However, as some elderly people, people with chronic lung disease, heart disease or stroke and women in the second and third trimesters of pregnancy may already have reduced lung volumes or breathing issues, they should stop using an N95 mask if they feel uncomfortable. They should consult their doctor as to whether they can use the N95 mask.”

The National Environment Agency also addressed public concerns about the accuracy of its recent haze forecasts, given that clear skies suddenly appeared on Saturday and continued yesterday.

Ms Patricia Ee, Director of the Weather Services Department at Meteorological Service Singapore, put it down to the size of the country and changes in wind conditions. “Singapore is so small, so any slight change in wind direction could change the forecast ... any slight shift affects where the haze ends up,” she said.

Ministry of the Environment and Water Resources Deputy Secretary (Planning) Tan Gee Keow added: “The size and weather conditions around us ... make it hard to predict with accuracy. There are physical and geographical constraints.”

Today, the 24-hour Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) is forecast to stay in the moderate range at between 51 and 100.

However, as the PM2.5 concentration — which measures particles smaller than 2.5 micrometres in diameter — is expected to remain high at 71 to 95 μg/m3, the authorities issued an advisory that calls for precautions identical to what people should do when the 24-hour PSI range is between 101 and 200.

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