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‘No unusual level’ of air pollutants in Punggol

SINGAPORE — The air in Punggol contains “no unusual level” of toxic chemicals or pollutants, checks by the National Environment Agency (NEA) have shown, following two calls to the MediaCorp hotline by residents.

SINGAPORE — The air in Punggol contains “no unusual level” of toxic chemicals or pollutants, checks by the National Environment Agency (NEA) have shown, following two calls to the MediaCorp hotline by residents.

But the callers’ noses were not off the mark: NEA officers detected “foul odour” on two nights when they visited Punggol and Sengkang recently to investigate. “Foul odour which could possibly emanate from palm oil industries was detected on the nights of Oct 30 and Nov 8,” a spokesperson said, in response to queries.

One of the hotline callers, Mr Philip Sheng, said his sleep has been disturbed by a “chemical smell” lingering in the air. On some nights, the odour is so strong that his wife is woken up at 3am or 4am, said the 51-year-old engineer, who moved to Punggol Place last November. Mr Sheng said the smell occurs “almost every day”, beginning around midnight and lasting until early in the morning, and reckoned it could have come from oil refinery operations across the Causeway.

His experience does not seem to be a common one, though: Only one in 10 Punggol residents polled last week by TODAY concurred that a smell pervaded the air at certain times of the day.

Mr Song P C, 68, said a “burning smell” sometimes permeates the air early in the morning and during the evening. “I don’t close the windows at home as I don’t like air-conditioning,” he said. “It’s not very conducive as I would want fresh air when I head out to exercise in the morning.”

Other residents said they have never detected any foul scent in the area, save for a short-lived sewage smell on Nov 8 that was reported on a community Facebook page, according to one resident who declined to be named.

The NEA’s investigations have found “no unusual level of toxic chemicals”. Officers have performed on-site measurements of air quality and collected air samples for laboratory analysis, said the spokesperson. The agency’s air monitoring systems also “did not show any unusual pollutant levels in the ambient air”.

It also ruled out industries near Punggol as the cause of the smell, after inspections of their equipment, processes, operations and records “did not reveal any abnormalities or issues in their operations” that could be behind the “chemical smell as mentioned in the feedback”, she said.

The NEA said it would continue to monitor the area closely. The public may call 1800 225 5632 if they detect smells.

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