Dear All Singapore Stuff,

This is a petition by concerned parents to MOE, urging MOE to protect
schoolchildren from the haze.

Parents are concerned about the long-term health risks of children being
exposed to the haze at significantly elevated PM2.5 levels.

Parents request the MOE to take immediate pro-active steps to protect school
children from the haze in school classrooms.

Most Primary and Secondary school classrooms have ceiling fans and doors and
windows are kept open for ventilation in this tropical country. If doors and
windows are shut without air-conditioning, microorganisms, carbon dioxide,
heat and humidity build up.

Children are particularly vulnerable to respiratory conditions and smoke
because their respiratory systems are immature, they breathe faster having
smaller lung capacities and deeper being more active. They breathe in more
air (and consequently more contaminants) relative to their body size.

According to a paper published by the World Health Organization (WHO),
exposure to particulate matter affects lung development in children,
including chronically reduced lung growth rate and a deficit in long-term
lung function.

WHO states that there is no evidence of a safe level of exposure for children
or a threshold below which no adverse health effects occur.

The nature of chronic disease, including cancer, involves cumulative damage
to cells over time. Published data on breathing smoke particles from
vegetation fires, including by WHO, suggests that chronic health impacts
include asthma, respiratory and cardiovascular disease, stroke and lung
cancer. Children accumulating haze pollutants from a young age, even if they
do not exhibit acute symptoms, may be more likely to suffer from chronic
disease in later life and at an earlier age.

Suggestions for immediate steps to be taken by the MOE, starting at Unhealthy
levels of PM2.5 (101 – 200), are :

make arrangements for all essential lessons and/or exams to be conducted in
air-conditioned rooms with mechanical air filters (please see risks of
electronic air cleaners below)
implement e-learning at home for all non-essential lessons. Schools will
remain open to provide air-conditioned and air filtered spaces for those
children who continue to attend school for reasons, including childcare or
for access to computers and/or the internet

in schools where there are insufficient air-conditioned and air filtered
rooms, equip some classrooms with mechanical air filters, with appropriate
regard to the need for ventilation, e.g. portable air-conditioners

give more guidance to schools on effective haze prevention measures.
Teachers to educate children on the correct use of N95 masks and instruct
children to put masks on when moving between air-conditioned and air filtered
spaces. Use of N95 masks for prolonged periods is not advisable.

Parents would appreciate MOE taking long-term haze measures at schools to
ensure lesson continuity and to avoid parents having to make childcare
arrangements at the last minute should school be cancelled.

Many electronic air cleaners (ionisers, UV and/or ozone generators) produce
ozone, including as a byproduct. Ozone is a lung irritant and causes
respiratory tract inflammation, serious breathing difficulty such as asthma
and permanent lung damage.

Dr Christy Toh
A.S.S. Contributor

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