Wednesday, 26 June 2013

Bronze Medallion

Our leaders, GSL Fiery Serpent and CSL of Casuarina SE, Black Bear were honoured as the first in the world to be presented the Scouts Western Australia Bronze Medallion by Chief Commissioner of Scouts WA Branch, Mr Larry Lucas.

The same ceremony also saw Mr Desmond Foo and the Singapore Scout Association being presented the Medallion.


Monday, 24 June 2013

Do Not Ignore PM2.5, Watch This Number, Not PSI!

Increased levels of fine particles in the air as a result of anthropogenic particulate air pollution "is consistently and independently related to the most serious effects, including lung cancer and other cardiopulmonary mortality." The large number of deaths and other health problems associated with particulate pollution was first demonstrated in the early 1970s and has been reproduced many times since. PM pollution is estimated to cause 22,000-52,000 deaths per year in the United States (from 2000) and contributed to ~370,000 premature deaths in Europe during 2005.

The effects of inhaling particulate matter that have been widely studied in humans and animals now include asthma, lung cancer, cardiovascular issues, respiratory diseases, birth defects, and premature death. The size of the particle is a main determinant of where in the respiratory tract the particle will come to rest when inhaled. Because of their small size, particles on the order of ~10 micrometers or less (PM10) can penetrate the deepest part of the lungs such as the bronchioles or alveoli. Larger particles are generally filtered in the nose and throat via cilia and mucus, but particulate matter smaller than about 10 micrometers, referred to as PM10, can settle in the bronchi and lungs and cause health problems. The 10 micrometer size does not represent a strict boundary between respirable and non-respirable particles, but has been agreed upon for monitoring of airborne particulate matter by most regulatory agencies.

Similarly, particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers, PM2.5, tend to penetrate into the gas exchange regions of the lung, and very small particles (< 100 nanometers) may pass through the lungs to affect other organs. Penetration of particles is not wholly dependent on their size; shape and chemical composition also play a part. Therefore simple nomenclature can be used to distinguish between the different degrees of relative penetration of a PM particle into the cardiovascular system. Inhalable particles penetrate no further than the bronchi as they are filtered out by the cilia, Thoracic particles can penetrate right into terminal bronchioles whereas PM which can penetrate to alveoli and hence the circulatory system are termed respirable particles.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association indicates that PM2.5 leads to high plaque deposits in arteries, causing vascular inflammation and atherosclerosis — a hardening of the arteries that reduces elasticity, which can lead to heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems.  The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that "... fine particulate air pollution (PM(2.5)), causes about 3% of mortality from cardiopulmonary disease, about 5% of mortality from cancer of the trachea, bronchus, and lung, and about 1% of mortality from acute respiratory infections in children under 5 yr, worldwide." doi:10.1080/15287390590936166 PMID 16024504. Researchers suggest that even short-term exposure at elevated concentrations could significantly contribute to heart disease. A study in The Lancet concluded that traffic exhaust is the single most serious preventable cause of heart attack in the general public, the cause of 7.4% of all attacks.

The smallest particles, less than 100 nanometers (nanoparticles), may be even more damaging to the cardiovascular system. There is evidence that particles smaller than 100 nanometers can pass through cell membranes and migrate into other organs, including the brain. It has been suggested that particulate matter can cause similar brain damage as that found in Alzheimer patients. Particles emitted from modern diesel engines (commonly referred to as Diesel Particulate Matter, or DPM) are typically in the size range of 100 nanometers (0.1 micrometer). In addition, these soot particles also carry carcinogenic components like benzopyrenes adsorbed on their surface. It is becoming increasingly clear that the legislative limits for engines, which are in terms of emitted mass, are not a proper measure of the health hazard. One particle of 10 µm diameter has approximately the same mass as 1 million particles of 100 nm diameter, but it is clearly much less hazardous, as it probably never enters the human body — and if it does, it is quickly removed. Proposals for new regulations exist in some countries, with suggestions to limit the particle surface area or the particle count (numerical quantity).

A further complexity that is not entirely documented is how the shape of PM can affect health. Of course the dangerous needle-like shape of asbestos is widely recognised to lodge itself in the lungs with often dire consequences. Geometrically angular shapes have more surface area than rounder shapes, which in turn affects the binding capacity of the particle to other, possibly more dangerous substances. The inhalable dust fraction is the fraction of dust that enters the nose and mouth and may be deposited anywhere in the respiratory tract. The thoracic fraction is the fraction that enters the thorax and is deposited within the lung airways and the gas-exchange regions. The respiratory fraction is what is deposited in the gas exchange regions (alveoli).

The site and extent of absorption of inhaled gases and vapors are determined by their solubility in water. Absorption is also dependent upon air flow rates and the partial pressure of the gases in the inspired air. The fate of a specific contaminant is dependent upon the form in which it exists (aerosol or particulate). Inhalation also depends upon the breathing rate of the subject.

(extracted from Wikipedia)

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Hosting Friends from Australia (Singapore Cuboree)

SE Boys are busy these days hosting friends from Australia.  This is the blog entry from Day 1.  For the other days, do visit

Today we checked out from Costa Sands and were due to move into Sarimbun at 0900 hrs.  However since the Cuboree had been postponed, we had a fantastic alternative programme planned for us.  Some Singaporean Scouts from Soaring Eagles Scout Group and St Joseph's Institution Pelandok Scout troops join us for our activities today.

We had wanted to go to Wild Wild Wet, but it was still closed due to the haze.  So.. we were scooted off to Resorts World Sentosa.  The first thing we did was to walk through an interactive Maritime Museum to learn about ships of the past and how trade was done in Asia.
The exhibits led well to the Typhoon Theatre, a 15 minute 4-Dimensional Presentation that led the audience into the Marine Life Park, S.E.A Aquarium! It is the world's largest aquarium accredited by Guinness World Records™ which is home to more than 100,000 marine animals from over 800 species and across 49 habitats!
We had a nice alfresco lunch outside the aquarium before we were off to Tiong Bahru Plaza.  This was a suburban mall with a cinema.  This was where we caught the newly released Monsters University.
In a nutshell, it was about the limegreen ball-like Mike Wazowski and the big, blue furry James P. Sullivan who, in Monsters Inc. are an inseparable pair.  That wasn't always the case. From the moment these two mismatched monsters met they couldn't stand each other. "Monsters University" unlocks the door to how Mike and Sulley overcame their differences and became the best of friends.
We proceeded back to the Singapore Scout Association for dinner, shower and a special activity where we made some gifts for the children with special needs who would be attending the Cuboree.

We're doing great everyone, the haze is no problem at all to us, resilient Western Australians.. we will be kept meaningfully occupied (we are told) and we will be coming home as planned.  There are no changes to our flight itinerary!

More photos are on the way, but our photographers are really tired today.. more will be posted soon!!

This is our itinerary tomorrow (Sunday, 23 June 2013).  If you happen to be in the area, do drop by to say HI!:
Breakfast @ Scout Den
Departure from SSA
Ice Cream Making Enrichment
Departure from SSC
Dinner @ Scout Den
@ RI Sports Centre
Environment Talk in Prep for Gardens by Bay

Friday, 14 June 2013

Rock Climbing SNCS Levels 1 and 2 Certification

It's climbing year in the SE cycle of training calendar.. 18 Scouts and Ventures attended the course at SAFRA Adventure Centre
and after two days of training and climbing, all were certified Level 2!  ;)  Congratulations!
More photos on Facebook.