Haze in Malaysia: Bad air days ahead, again

Ling Poh Lean New Straits Times 1 Aug 12;

UNHEALTHY LEVELS: Tanjung Malim and Port Klang record worst pollution

KUALA LUMPUR: KLANG Valley is once again blanketed in haze which blew in from Sumatra yesterday.

Based on the Air Pollutant Index (API) chart at the Department of Environment's (DOE) website, the air in two areas, Tanjung Malim in Perak and Port Klang in Selangor, was polluted.

As of 5pm yesterday, Tanjung Malim topped the chart with a reading of 122 followed by Kuala Selangor (109).

The API in Tanjung Malim had jumped from moderate level with an API of 64 at 11am to an unhealthy level at 5pm.

An air quality reading of 101 to 202 is considered "unhealthy", 51 to 100 is "moderate" and 0 to 50 is "good".

The air quality readings in some other areas as of 5pm yesterday include Cheras (80) in Kuala Lumpur; Banting (84), Kuala Selangor (76) and Petaling Jaya (73) in Selangor; Ipoh, Perak (75) and Seberang Prai, Penang (82).

The deteriorating air quality was first spotted in Port Klang at 11am on Monday with API of 118. The reading increased to 122 at 5pm on the same day.

A statement by the department said strong winds from the southwest of Sumatra, which is across the Straits of Malacca, had blown in the direction of Peninsular Malaysia, causing the haze. The department has also ordered a ban on open burning in all states.

As peat areas are known to be easily flammable, the department has also implemented the standard operating procedure for the prevention of peat fires and has begun conducting checks on gas emissions from factories and vehicles.

A satellite image given by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed 22 hotspots in Sumatra on Monday.

The DOE updates the API readings three times a day at 7am, 11am and 5pm and the data is available at http://www.doe.gov.my/portal.

The Meteorological Department said the country was expected to experience hot and dry weather until October.

Based on the weather forecast by the department's website, there will be no rain in Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Kelantan and Johor for the next three days.

The department forecast isolated rains and showers in Perlis, Kedah, Penang, Perak, Pahang, Selangor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan, Sabah and Sarawak over the next three days.

More places hit by haze
The Star 2 Aug 12;

PETALING JAYA: Haze continues to shroud the country with more areas recording moderate air quality readings. However, there were no areas with an unhealthy Air Pollutant Index as at 5pm yesterday.

The air quality for Port Klang and Kuala Selangor, which recorded an unhealthy API of 101 and 102 at 11am yesterday, improved to 94 and 98 respectively by 5pm, according to the Department of Environment’s website.

(A good API reading is from 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200, very unhealthy 201-299 and hazardous from 300 and above.)

As at 5pm yesterday, 42 areas or 82% recorded moderate air quality readings compared to 37 the previous day.

Among the areas with high moderate readings were Seri Manjung, Perak, with an API of 86, Cheras (81), Petaling Jaya (78), Kuala Terengganu (75) and Kuching (70). Some areas recorded an improvement of readings throughout the day while others showed a slight increase.

The Meteorological Department noted that most parts of the country recorded normal (above 10km) or near normal visibility levels by 7pm yesterday except for Alor Star (6km), Batu Embun, Kedah (8km), Bayan Lepas (8km). Butterworth (7km), Langkawi (7km) and Prai (7km).

According to the latest regional hazemap, scattered and isolated hotspots continue to be detected in Borneo and Sumatra respectively. But no significant smoke plumes were visible from satellite images.

The transboundary haze is an annual affair during this southwest monsoon season which brings about drier weather.

Meanwhile, the DOE in a statement yesterday stated that it received 10 complaints of open burning on Tuesday which had been investigated and the necessary action taken.

Of the complaints, four were minor agriculture fires, two were bush fires while the remaining involved the burning of garbage, it said.

Complaints on open burning can be forwarded to the Fire and Rescue Department at 999 or DOE at 1800-88-2727.