Singapore PSI and PM2.5 AQI: Why is there a difference between the two readings?

Posted on June 25th 2013

Please note that this article was orginally written in June 2013.
In April 2014, the Singapore NEA has updated the PSI calculation to also include PM2.5.

With the recent Southeast Asia Smog from Indonesia affecting Singapore and now Malaysia, we got many questions about why there is a difference between the data which can be read from Singapore NEA website ( and the World Air Quality Index project Singapore webpage.

For instance, here is what can be read today in NEA website:

For some historical reason, Singapore is using the PSI (Pollutant Standard Index) to evaluate the Air Quality. In the image above, number 1 corresponds to the PM10 value that is used for the PSI evalation. The value 67(/59) can be read as 67 μg/m3, corresponding to a PSI of 59. The PSI is evaluated as the maximum of the individual PSI for each of the pollutants: PM10, SO2, NO2, O3 (Ozone) and CO2.

PSI(Singapore-North) = max( PSIPM10-based, ... PSIO3-based )= max (59, ..., 77) = 77

This said, the interesting thing is that, in this same table, the PM2.5 data is also provided in the last column (see 3). This data is provided in μg/m3 only (see 2), and there is no conversion to something like the PSI (i.e. a conversion from the PM2.5 mass to a Pollution or Quality Index). This conversion however exists, and is defined by the US Environmental Protection Agency. The easiest way to do the conversion is to use the online calculator, available at

If you select the PM2.5 (1), then enter the mass concentration of 48 (2), can click on Calculate, you will obtain the AQI of 132 (3). So, based on the PM2.5 AQI conversion, the PSI that is used for Singapore could be extended (let's call it PSI++) to also take into account the PM2.5 information. In which case, the PSI++ would be the maximum of the regular PSI (based on PM10 only) and the PM2.5 AQI:

PSI++ = max( PSI, AQIPM.25 ) = max( 77, 132 ) = 132

This PSI++, that is commonly referred as AQI (or Air Quality Index), is what is being used on the the World Air Quality Index project, for all the cities (provided PM2.5 is available for the city). And this explains why the values are different between the NEA website and the World Air Quality Index project.

Note: With the PSI update from April 2014, the only remaining difference is that the World Air Quality Index project is using a 1-hour PM2.5 reading (following the instantcast) while Singpore PSI is based on the 3 hours average.

Moreover, when doing the convertion, make sure you use the 1-hour reading for the PM2.5 concentration rather than the 24-hours averaged value, as shown on the below image:

If you want to know more about PM10 vs PM2.5, and especially why PM10 is still used, please check the faq entry about why is PM2.5 often higher than PM10? Is PM10 still a relevant measure?


Note: This article is part of a series on Worlwide Air Quality scales.

For more information about specific countries or continent, please refer to thoses articles:
Thailand and Malysia
Hong Kong / Canada (Air Quality Health Index)
South America
Quebec and Montreal
For information about the 24 hours averaging used or Ozone and Particulate Matter (PM2.5), please refer to those two articles: Ground Ozone Index - PM2.5 Instant Cast

Click here to see all the FAQ entries
  • Nitrogen Dioxyde (NO2) in our atmosphere
  • Ozone AQI Scale update
  • Kriging Interpolation

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    Über die Luftqualitätsstufen

    -Werte zur Luftqualität (AQI)Stufen zur Bewertung der Gesundheitsgefährdung
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    Um mehr zur Luftqualität und -verschmutzung zu erfahren, gehen Sie auf die Seite wikipedia Luftqualität Thema oder den AIRNow Leitfaden für Luftqualität und Ihre Gesundheit .

    Sehr nützliche Gesundheitsratschläge gibt der Pekinger Arzt Richard Saint Cyr MD, Blog.

    Usage Notice: All the Air Quality data are unvalidated at the time of publication, and due to quality assurance these data may be amended, without notice, at any time. The World Air Quality Index project has exercised all reasonable skill and care in compiling the contents of this information and under no circumstances will the World Air Quality Index project team or its agents be liable in contract, tort or otherwise for any loss, injury or damage arising directly or indirectly from the supply of this data.



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