Haze clears up but Miri air quality dips due to fire

New Straits Times 22 Jun 12;

KUALA LUMPUR: Air quality in the Klang Valley and other parts of country improved yesterday except in Miri, Sarawak, which showed a surge in the air pollutant index (API) in just mere hours, from moderate to unhealthy .

The Department of Environment (DOE) website showed the API readings for Klang Valley and other parts of the country were still within the moderate range of below 100.

However, it said the API reading in Miri rose from 62 at 7am, to 164 at 11am, because of a fire which broke out at 10ha of peatland in Permai Jaya near the monitoring station.

"The fire is under control at the moment and the Fire and Rescue Department is continuing to fight the fire in the area," the department said.

The department classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as "good", 51 to 100 as "moderate", 101 to 200 as "unhealthy", 201 to 300 as "very unhealthy" and more than 300 as "hazardous".

At 5pm yesterday, the department's air quality monitoring stations nationwide recorded nine areas with good air quality, 40 with moderate readings and only one recorded as unhealthy.

Cheras and Batu Muda were recorded at 65 and 54, while Putrajaya's air stood at 51.

In Selangor, Port Klang recorded an API of 75, Shah Alam (60), Kuala Selangor (59) and Petaling Jaya (60).

Seberang Jaya 2 and Perai in Penang recorded API readings of 94 and 83.

Satellite images from the Singapore Meteorological Service showed there were 341 hotspots in Sumatra at on Wednesday.

A total ban on open burning was imposed on Saturday in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

On enforcement measures, the department said it had mobilised more officers to check factories and motor vehicle emissions.

The department reminded the public to refrain from open burning, putting out small fires and report any open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or DOE's toll free line 1-800-88-2727.

Meanwhile, the Meteorological Department forecasted isolated rain in all states today and tomorrow except for Penang, Perlis and Johor.