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Smoke Haze not a new challenge for F1: Singapore GP to go ahead

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Smoke Haze not a new challenge for F1: Singapore GP to go ahead
Sep 15, 2015, 3:26 PM

The smoke haze, which has threatened this weekend's Singapore GP, is not sufficient to cause changes to the F1 programme, according to organisers.

The smoke haze, which has threatened this weekend's Singapore GP, is not sufficient to cause changes to the F1 programme, according to organisers. So for the moment, the event goes ahead, but the outlook for the next 24 hours in the region is for a possible worsening of the situation.

But this is nothing new to F1, which has had to deal with smoke hazes, especially in the Asian races, several times before.

The Malaysian GP in particular has faced similar challenges in the past, especially when the race featured in the back end of the calendar in the dry season, when the large palm oil and paper are companies in the region burn off brush in preparation for planting. It is a highly controversial subject in the area and this year's drama is sure to bring things to a head.

The build up to the 2002 race was bad, where local fires meant that visibility was poor and there have been several occurrences since.

For Singapore this weekend, the challenge is for the spectating public as much as anyone else, with warnings about outdoor activity for some categories of people, depending on their general health.

Singapore GP crowd

The air quality figures are poor, bordering on the "unhealthy", so spectators are being urged to keep abreast of the situation by using the Singapore GP website and other information sources,

"The haze situation is highly changeable not only from day to day, but from hour to hour. Therefore, it is currently not possible to reliably predict what the PSI [Pollutatnt Standards Index] level might be over the race weekend. We will continue to work closely with all the relevant government authorities to receive the best possible forecasts when they are available," said a statement from organisers on Tuesday.

The level at 8pm on Tuesday was 114-138, which is well into the range of 'unhealthy'. Above 200 is considered 'very unhealthy'. Much of the activity of F1 professionals takes place indoors, in the team offices, media centre and race control building. The mechanics are exposed in the garages and so are the drivers when they take to the track for between one hour and 90 minutes at a time.

The haze has been caused by brush fire as farmers in Indonesia burning off forest land. The Indonesian government declared a state of emergency on Monday and sent 1,000 troops to Sumatra to fight the fires, according to local news agencies.

South Sumatra has had over 20,000 reported cases of acute respiratory tract infections this week.

It has been sufficiently bad to force the cancellation of smaller sporting events in Singapore in the past week. But the Grand Prix is the biggest annual event in the region.

Singapore GP's own website has a link to the Environment Agency site, with more detailed information, as follows:

"The 24-hour PSI for the next 24 hours (Wednesday) is expected to be in the mid to high sections of the Unhealthy range, and may enter the low section of the Very Unhealthy range if denser haze from Sumatra is blown in.

The health impact of haze is dependent on one’s health status, the PSI level, and the length and intensity of outdoor activity. Reducing outdoor activities and physical exertion can help limit the ill effects from haze exposure. Given the air quality forecast for the next 24 hours, healthy persons should avoid prolonged or strenuous outdoor physical exertion. The elderly, pregnant women and children should minimise outdoor activity, while those with chronic lung or heart disease should avoid outdoor activity. Persons who are not feeling well, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, should seek medical attention."
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