Malaysia: Haze moves north, Penang close to unhealthy

Hafiz Marzukhi The Star 25 Jul 13;

GEORGE TOWN: The air quality in Penang is inching towards the ‘unhealthy’ level.

The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading for several areas in the state on Thursday morning showed an upward trend.

According to the Department of Environment website, Seberang Jaya looked to cross into the unhealthy zone with its API of 95 at 8am.

The API for Prai and at Universiti Sains Malaysia are at 88 and 81 respectively.

Showers to ease arid weather conditions in several hazy states
Isabelle Lai and Manjit Kaur The Star 25 Jul 13;

PETALING JAYA: Rainfall is expected over several states in the next few days, which will hopefully help to clear up the hazy skies.

According to the Department of Environment (DOE), rain should fall over Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Perak, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu and Pahang.

“This weather condition is expected to help dispel the haze the country is experiencing,” it said in a statement here yesterday.

As at 5pm, the Air Pollutant Index readings showed slightly improved air quality, with just Seri Manjung in Perak recording an unhealthy level.

However, the number of hotspots in Sumatra are still on the rise, with the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre’s hotspot map displaying 292 hotspots yesterday, up from 252 on Monday.

In Malaysia, 27 hotspots were detected – seven each in Johor and Pahang, two in Negri Sembilan and 11 in Sarawak.

“Site investigations and enforcement action will be taken for each of the hotspots detected,” it said.

Indonesian authorities have begun cloud seeding efforts to induce rain over Riau province, which is currently engulfed in choking smog believed to be from resumed land and forest burnings.

The haze returned after the number of hotspots in Sumatra rose drastically from three last Thursday to 159 on Saturday.

However, Malaysia is not as badly affected this time around due to lighter wind patterns resulting in the haze spreading much slower.

Last month, thick haze enveloped parts of the peninsula and Singapore – aided by forest fires and strong winds – with air quality in several areas reaching hazardous levels.

In Ipoh, the API reading in Seri Manjung was at 120 as at 3pm.

State Department of Environment director Abdul Razak Abdul Manap said the northwards wind was bringing the haze into that part of Perak and affecting the air quality.

His officers, he said, had been instructed to carry out ground surveillance for any open burning as well as via the satellite to detect any hotspot.

“Once we have detected the locations, the Fire and Rescue Department will be called in to assist in putting out the fires,” he said.

Meanwhile, a fire at the Tanjung Tualang landfill near Batu Gajah since Tuesday had worsened the air quality there, with billowing smoke covering the 4ha site.

Fire and Rescue Department’s Operations chief Halid Md Zin said 14 firemen had the fire under control within 20 minutes but it took them nine hours to completely put out the blaze.

“We are still determining the cause of the fire,” he said, urging the public not to encroach into the site to carry out open burning.

Haze clears leaving 1 area with unhealthy air quality
New Straits Times 25 Jul 13;

KUALA LUMPUR: The haze situation in the country has improved, with only one station recording an unhealthy level at 5pm yesterday, compared with three on Tuesday.

The Environment Department yesterday said the unhealthy reading was in Seri Manjung in Perak with an Air Pollutant Index (API) of 120.

Overall, the API readings at 12 stations were healthy while 39 others had moderate readings.

But the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre reported that hot spots in Sumatera had increased from 252 on Tuesday, to 292 yesterday.

The increase was not apparent in Malaysia, where 27 hot spots were detected yesterday compared with 26 the previous day.

The 27 hot spots were in Johor (7), Pahang (7), Negri Sembilan (2) and Sarawak (11).

Director-general of Environment Datuk Halimah Hassan on Monday had sent a letter to her Indonesian counterpart to express Malaysia's concern about the spike in the number of hot spots in central Sumatra.

She urged Indonesia to take action to prevent and put out forest fires in central Sumatra, which had brought the haze back to Malaysia.

The department had been keeping tabs to ensure there was no open burning in all states.

It took steps to prevent peat fires and opened a 24-hour operations centre to receive complaints on open burning.