Cancelled – all cleanups on morning of Sat 19 Sep 2015: haze at unhealthy levels

0720h – Dear Organiser, do cancel your scheduled cleanup at current unhealthy levels of haze. We certainly appreciate the dedication by those of you intending to proceed. However, ICCS is not able to accept data from this morning to safeguard volunteers’ health.

From NEA Pollutant Concentrations page.
Pollutant Concentrations 3

View of Bukit Timah from Holland Village this morning
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Haze Advisory to Organisers, update: Only hourly PM2.5 concentrations are suitable for a rapid response (and values > 55µg/m3 are unhealthy)

About half of the 70 organisations in the International Coastal Cleanup Singapore cancelled over the past week after the first haze advisory was issued. The remaining organisations, about half, are able to defer their decision to early tomorrow morning.

However, I had to improve the advisory. Since PSI indices are based on previously registered values, they cannot respond to rapid changes on the ground. So it is the 1-hr PM2.5(µg/m3) concentrations which NEA has published since 2014, which has been pointed to ICCS Organisers to keep an eye on.

Well, that and their eyes and noses!

———- Forwarded message ———-
From: International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Date: Fri, Sep 18, 2015 at 10:03 PM

Dear International Coastal Cleanup Organisers in Singapore,

Some of you will decide if you can proceed with your coastal cleanup on the morning of the event itself. Here is our recommendation.

Check 1-hour PM2.5 values. PSI values are historical so will not help.

What is this value?

  • This value indicates the concentration of harmful fine particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter in the environment.
  • Yes it is a lower number than your PSI, because this value is a concentration, and not an index.
  • The concentration can be converted to an Air Quality Index (AQI) value.
  • The 3-hour and 24-hour indices report historical values so are not applicable to our situation.

You can rely on your eyes and nose too!

  • Conditions can change very rapidly with shifting winds and take up to an hour for readings to reflect this change.
  • Be observant and respond accordingly.

Why is the use of N95 masks for coastal cleanups not recommended?

  • Only N95 masks help prevent inhalation of fine particles. However they must used properly and in the right conditions.
  • Fit is of critical importance to prevent the entry of 2.5 micrometer-sized particles through gaps in the mask.
  • Each user needs to be fitted properly and the seal examined to ensure it is adequate, especially with people unfamiliar with use of the mask (most of us!)
  • Heavy breathing can disrupt the seal of a mask.
  • Wearing a mask and engaging in physical activity may require increased effort to breathe or create discomfort in breathing.

Why are we being so careful?
Isn’t the issue of marine pollution critical? Don’t we need the data?

  • ICCS is not such a critical exercise that it requires volunteers to take such risks.
  • Small and fine particles can pass through the throat and nose to enter the lungs and affect our heart and lungs.
  • This can cause serious short-term and long-term health effects.

Even though we have been working on the International Coastal Cleanup project since the start of the year, the health of all you precious volunteers is much more important.

All the best and let’s hope for clear skies!

Relevant Links



N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum &
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

ICCS Haze Advisory for Organisers: At air quality readings above 100psi, please consider cancelling your event!

Dear Organisers,

regarding the haze in Singapore, we recommend the following:

1) At psi levels above 100, please consider cancelling your event.

  • As the Organiser of your event, the decision is yours to make.
  • Do inform us once you decide, and if you can, the latest by Friday (18 Sep 2015) 12.00pm
  • We will inform NEA, NParks and SLA/SPF as needed and will cancel trash pickup arrangements.

Some of you may be wanting to delay your decision until the morning of the cleanup itself and we support this. But do let us know if you intend to do this and we can keep the relevant agencies updated.

I know this is extremely disappointing to us all after almost a year of preparation. But let us focus on staying healthy right now and work at protecting the marine environment directly when it is safer for us to do so.

2) In conditions of 50 – 100 psi, please advise vulnerable individuals

  • Please caution vulnerable volunteers against participation in the cleanup event.
  • These are individuals who are already experiencing discomfort or irritation even from low level haze conditions (0 – 50psi).
  • A coastal cleanup requires at least least three hours of exposure which such individuals should avoid.

Note that the Ministry of Health advisory is less conservative, see their FAQ: Impact of Haze on Health (Updated 20 March 2015).

3) Attempt an alternative date in October for those who can?

  • Some of you may be able to consider an alternative date within what Ocean Conservancy has informed us is the acceptable data collection period of Oct 2015.
  • These two dates are identified as the best in relation to tides:
    • Sat 03 Oct 2015: 0800h – 1000h (tide: 1.1m – 1.5m).
    • Sat 10 Oct 2015: 1500h – 1700h (tide: 1.3m – 1.4m).
  • If you intend to consider an October option, please let us know.
  • Be prepared that the haze may not clear by these dates as well.
  • We will make arrangements with relevant agencies accordingly.

Thank you for caring for the environment, everyone, and all the best!



p.s. I have been monitoring the haze since 19 Aug 2015. In this time, I have been reading various recommendations, reviewing the prevalence of respiratory conditions, consulted doctors about the matter, and examined various advisories. In early September, I decided the ICCS advisory would be a conservative one even if haze levels did not exceed 100 psi. Our priority is to safeguard our volunteers’ health and to live to fight another day!

N. Sivasothi
Coordinator, International Coastal Cleanup Singapore
Lee Kong Chian Natural History Museum &
Department of Biological Sciences
National University of Singapore

Be part of the 30th International Coastal Cleanup – join us @ Tanah Merah 7, Singapore on Sat 19 Sep 2015!

On Sat 19 Sep 2015, more than half a million volunteers around the world will participate in the 30th International Coastal Cleanup! And as the sun rises over Singapore, some 3,500 volunteers from 68 different organisations will hit the beaches and mangroves of Singapore in what will be our 24th year!

If you are not from an organisation or group but want to be part of ICC Singapore 2015, look no further – join the NUS Toddycats & Independents team who will battle marine trash at Tanah Merah 7. We join five other organisations on that 900 metre long beach on Sat 19 Sep 2015: 8.00am – 11.00am.

Registration has closed! Thanks for indicating your interest.
Transport will be provided from Tanah Merah MRT, so please sign up early


Why Cleanup? In Singapore, our coastlines host a vast amount of biodiversity. Trash present in these areas can impact our wildlife adversely and devalue the natural beauty of the landscape. Volunteers in Singapore, like other concerned individuals around the world, conduct coastal cleanups to remove this trash, raise awareness about the impact of marine trash, and motivate us to adopt sustainable practises in daily urban living.

Tanah Merah Beach 7 is a state land located in the east of Singapore, next to the Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal (TMFT). This area is closed to members of the public and permission is needed for each access. The coastline of Tanah Merah 7 is alive with critters, big and small – read more about it here.

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But amidst creatures lie heaps of plastic and styrofoam.

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If you want to know more about what to expect on the day, see photos from ICCS 2014!

Come join us to make a difference on these shores!


  • 7:30am – Transport from Tanah Merah MRT to Tanah Merah Ferry Terminal Car Park (meeting point).
  • 8.00am – Briefing and identification of the Trash Disposal Point (TDP). Wet weather plans (stop for lighting threat). Organise into groups of four participants, apply insect repellant, collect gloves and trash bags; walk to site.
  • 8.15am – Cleanup begins @ TM7 Beach
  • 9.30am – Cleanup end. Weigh trash, report data summary (under shade!); discussion/ reflection.
  • 10.00am – Transportation of trash to TDP.
  • 10.30am – Participants clean up. Toilets are available at the Ferry Terminal building.
  • 10.45am – Event ends; bus leaves from Tanah Merah MRT.

Things to note

  1. Gloves, trash bags and weighing scales are provided.
  2. You must wear hard-soled covered shoes or booties to to protect your feet from hazards. Without appropriate footwear, you will not be allowed on the site.
  3. A change of clothes is recommended after a sweaty workout.
  4. Long pants are recommended to protect your legs from insect bites, but bermudas are fine if you are tolerant or unaffected.
  5. If there is a drizzle, we will continue the cleanup with our wet weather gear. If there are strong winds or lightning threat, we will halt the event.

Things to bring:

  1. Water bottle (with at least one litre of water)
  2. Hat and/or sun block
  3. Reusable raincoat/poncho or umbrella
  4. Towel to wipe off sand and mud

Be prepared:

  1. Sleep early the night before
  2. Have a decent breakfast – it’s a hard morning’s work!
  3. Be punctual – we are unable to wait for latecomers; the tide waits for no one!
  4. Refer to this recce report of TM7 for more information on the cleanup site.
  5. Please read our advice to participants to prepare yourself for the cleanup!

Thank you for caring for the environment!


A painting to persuade reflection – how green is your coastal cleanup?

Organising a coastal cleanup is a noble action – participants unburden a habitat of marine trash. When we further highlight the biodiversity of a site, after a cleanup, they are gladdened by the realisation of the specific creatures they have helped with this immediate action!

Sensitivity when working in a precious habitat is critical – so we prepare participants to minimise impact in our mangrove cleanups by avoiding seedlings, small crabs and other marine life as they move about. We never need to run and move slowly and steadily instead!

Now, a well-meaning, enthusiastic but new Organiser may inadvertently generate more trash than their participants manage to clean off their beach site! To help them avoid this, we suggest a few ideas to Organisers at the ICCS workshop and in the final email before the cleanup:

  1. Have participants bring their own water bottles – this reduces waste generation by the disposal of single use plastic bottles. Bottled NEWater may be freely available for distribution but are too small for the physical exertion of a 90-minute cleanup. This means providing several bottles of NEWater per person and should definitely be avoided!
  2. Avoid catering food in disposal containers like styrofoam or other plastic. Sure we love to eat but this can generate more trash than you might remove from a beach! Which then makes us wonder, how about “reduce”?
  3. Single-use banners with a lengthy date printed boldly is only useable for one year. To ensure reuse, just print the year or leave an empty slot for the year. A creative paint-over will do the trick! Even better, and much easier is to add a digital banner to the group photo later!
  4. How green is your cleanup

    Intern Becky Lee has added a visual touch to the usual message this year – she has provided us with this poster to email our ICCS 2015 Organisers. We certainly hope this painting will encourage everyone to adopt an environmental-friendly cleanup on Saturday, 19th September 2015 – the expectation is clear!

3,500 volunteers in 68 organisations registered for September’s International Coastal Cleanup in Singapore

As of today, 3,542 volunteers are signed up through 68 organisations (schools, agencies, corporations and other groups) to tackle some 61 sites around Singapore. The date of the cleanup? On or near the international date set by the Ocean Conservancy on the third Saturday in September – 19th September 2015.

This will be the 23rd year of the international coastal cleanup in Singapore.

We began with a recruitment exercise for new site captains in March, then ICCS Zone Captains processed Organiser’s registration and allocated sites mostly in the first half of the year. About that time, they recce’d cleanup sites to ensure all was in order, and after three rounds of site allocations, we conducted three days of workshops for organisers, and amidst various talks at organisations, zone captains went on final site recces with Organisers.

We will next be updating various agencies – NParks, SLA/SPF, NEA’s Department of Public Cleanliness and the Public Hygiene Council – to update managers about specific event dates and locations, clear permissions for access where needed, avoid overlaps and secure help for trash removal at prearranged Trash Disposal Sites (TDPs).

See last year’s results.

So while in the midst of double-confirming details, here are some numbers:

  1. North West (6 sites, 10 organisations) – 526 volunteers
  2. North East (11 sites, 14 organisations) – 595 volunteers
  3. Pulau Ubin (16 sites, 12 organisations) – 566 volunteers
  4. Changi (4 sites, 9 organisations) – 580 volunteers
  5. Tanah Merah (7 sites, 11 organisations) – 590 volunteers
  6. East Coast (12 sites, 5 organisations) – 685 volunteers
  7. South (5 sites, 6 organisations) – 220 volunteers

And who is lending their elbow to this effort? The 68 groups are from mostly educational and corporate groups but also include community groups and to smaller extent, nature and environmental groups and government agencies.

  • 26 groups (1,960 volunteers) – educational institutions,
  • 27 groups (1,175 volunteers) – corporate groups
  • 7 groups (520 volunteers) – other communities
  • 4 (205 volunteers) – nature/environment groups
  • 4 (122 volunteers) – government agencies

To view the details, visit

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Showing our love for Singapore: National Day Coastal Cleanup @ Lim Chu Kang

7 August 2015, Friday — It was the first day of the Jubilee Weekend, and ICCS was down at Lim Chu Kang Beach and Mangrove celebrating National Day in our usual fashion; with a coastal cleanup! Altogether 48 volunteers showed our love for Singapore by removing 749kg of trash in 92 trash bags out of her Lim Chu Kang habitats.


Northwest Zone Captain Adriane Lee and I arrived on site earlier with the logistics, and did a quick recce before the participants arrived. Trash was abundant on the coastline, with various types of plastics hanging from branches and strewn under the trees.

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Left: Plastic bags, raffia string, and a deflated balloon trashed!
Right: Plastic pieces strewn over the pencil roots of Avicennia sp.

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Our hearts were filled with accomplishment at the sight of a mangrove relieved of trash so early that morning. We transferred trash bags to three Trash Collection Points (TCP) for weighing and formed a chain to transfer the weighed bags to the Trash Disposal Point at the edge of the jetty. This prearranged point with NEA’s Department of Public Cleanliness would be where the contractor would collect later.

Throughout the cleanup, we encountered mangrove horseshoe crab (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) moults and we used the specimens to introduce these amazing mangrove critters to the cleanup volunteers. I also talked about other cleanup and guiding efforts conducted by NUS Toddycats. ICCS Coordinator Sivasothi aka Otterman rounded up the session with the conservation and research history of this site, the importance our remaining mangrove patches and the value of the morning’s effort at relieving the site of impactful trash.

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Left: Talking about mangrove horseshoe crabs (Carcinoscorpius rotundicauda) using moults we found. Right: Cleanup volunteers listening intently to Sivasothi’s stories about Mandai and Lim Chu Kang mangroves in the 80’s and 90’s and how as an NUS undergraduate in the 80’s, he was was dismayed by the phenomenal amount of pollution there.


Otterman’s large Singapore Flag had disappeared this year – so the red and white shirted participants arranged themselves into a flag!

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Do you see the flag?

Thank you to everyone for a sensitive and effective cleanup at Lim Chu Kang, and I couldn’t think of a better way to celebrate our nation’s 50th birthday!

Photos on Flickr.