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N95 masks not certified for children’s use: MOH

SINGAPORE – Children should stay indoors as much as possible while the haze is still present because no N95 masks have been certified for them, the Ministry of Health advised today (June 23).

A young boy wearing a face mask in the haze. Photo by Don Wong, 20 Jun 2013.

A young boy wearing a face mask in the haze. Photo by Don Wong, 20 Jun 2013.

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SINGAPORE – Children should stay indoors as much as possible while the haze is still present because no N95 masks have been certified for them, the Ministry of Health advised today (June 23).

During a technical briefing on the daily haze update, where National Environment Agency (NEA) officials were also present, Dr Derrick Heng, group director of the public health group at MOH, stressed that there are currently no masks on the market suitable for children.

This is because under normal circumstance, N95 masks are 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 in children. Generally, (the) main concern we have is that the masks don’t fit well for children.

“For older children where the masks fit, it may be suitable for use,” he said.

Concerns that the haze forecasts by the NEA in recent days have not been wholly accurate were also addressed at the briefing.

Ms Patricia Ee, director of weather services department at the Meteorological Service Singapore, put it down to the size of Singapore and wind changes.

“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.

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

The forecast for tomorrow remains in the moderate range at between 51 to 100 PSI. But given that the forecast for the PM2.5 reading - which measures small particles - is still relatively high at 71 to 95 μg/m3, the advisory given will be for haze conditions in the 101 to 200 PSI range.

When the 24-hour PSI is in the 101-200 range, healthy people are advised to minimise prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise prolonged outdoor activity, and people with chronic lung and heart disease or stroke should avoid all outdoor activity, or wear an N95 mask otherwise.

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