Malaysia: Haze reaching hazardous levels in various states


PETALING JAYA: The haze hovering over the country finally breached the hazardous level when the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in Miri, Sarawak, reached almost 400 due to peat fires there.The town has seen API readings above 300 since early yesterday morning.

Another area with an “unhealthy” API reading was Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor.

A check with the Department of Environment’s (DoE) API website showed that the reading at the Institute Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) monitoring station in Miri was 390 as of 5pm yesterday.

Another monitoring station in SK Kuala Baram 2 recorded an “unhealthy” API reading of 137 as of 5pm, having seen a steady “unhealthy” reading since early morning.

Both the ILP and SK Kuala Baram 2 stations are located in the Kuala Baram district of Miri.

Residents in Kuala Baram were told to stay indoors after the API reading reached hazardous levels.

“The API in Kuala Baram has reached close to 400. Stay indoors and if it is absolutely necessary to go out, use a mask, ” said assistant minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh.

The poor air quality in Kuala Baram is believed to be caused by peat fires in the area.

“Let us hope for a favourable wind direction to blow away the smoke from the peat fires and for rain to come in the next few days, ” said Len Talif.

Firefighters have been battling peat fires in the Kuala Baram district since the start of the month.

As of yesterday, however, the blaze was still raging in two areas covering some 14ha and 28ha.

As of 5pm, Johan Setia in Klang recorded an “unhealthy” API level of 116.

The Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) said as of Friday, there were four hotspots in Malaysia and 103 in Indonesia.

“Three hotspots were detected in Sarawak and one in Peninsula Malaysia. Kalimantan has 93 and Sumatra has four, ” it said.

In Ipoh, Perak Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari reminded all schools to be vigilant.

He said school principals and teachers had been advised to get the latest API readings from either the DoE or MetMalaysia before organising any outdoor activities.

“We want the schools to be more informed about the current haze situation to ensure that the students under their care do not fall ill, ” he added.

The API readings in all five stations in Perak were moderate at between 59 and 73.

As of 5pm yesterday, the reading was 67 in Taiping, 73 in Tasek Ipoh, 68 in Pegoh Ipoh, 66 in Seri Manjung and 59 in Tanjung Malim.

API levels of 51 to 100 are classified as moderate, while those between 101 and 200 are unhealthy, between 201 and 300 very unhealthy and above 300 hazardous.

Hazardous air quality at SK Kuala Baram 2 gets worse
The Star 12 Aug 19;

KUCHING (Bernama): The Air Pollutant Index (API) in SK Kuala Baram 2 in Miri has risen.

The API reading there, already at the hazardous level, rose to 342 as of 3pm Monday (Aug 12) compared with 317 at 11am.

The Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee said one area recorded very unhealthy air quality level, namely the automatic air quality monitoring station located at Miri Industrial Training Institute, with an API reading of 297.

“Two stations recorded unhealthy air quality levels from Sibu and Sri Aman stations while the remaining nine stations showed moderate readings, ” it said in a statement Monday.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above is deemed hazardous.

It was reported that 19 satellite images detected 56 hotspots in Kalimantan, two in Sumatra, Indonesia, while four hotspots were detected – two in Miri and one each in Sibu and Kapit – in Sarawak.

“In this case, the State Disaster Management Committee has issued notification to the National Disaster Management Agency to conduct cloud seeding in Miri, Kuala Baram, Sibu and Sri Aman.

“Hence, the public is advised not to engage in any open burning activities that may further affect the air quality and cause the haze to worsen, ” he said. – Bernama

Air quality in Miri and Klang remains bad
ASHLEY TANG The Star 12 Aug 19;

PETALING JAYA: The Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in Miri, Sarawak and in Klang, Selangor have slightly increased as the air quality remains in the hazardous and unhealthy levels.

According to the Department of Environment’s API website, it showed that the API readings for Miri recorded a level of 396 as at 5pm yesterday.

In Johan Setia, Selangor, the API level recorded was at 127.

On Saturday, API levels in Miri and Johan Setia were at 391 and 117 respectively.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above is deemed hazardous.

Bernama reported that the Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department recorded 250 bushfires from Aug 1 to midday yesterday.

The department said in a statement that on average, they would receive 23 cases a day.

“Yesterday (Saturday), we recorded the highest number of bushfires with 58 cases, ” it said.

Although the department had advised the public not to carry out open burning, many still ignored the advice, the statement said.

In other areas such as Kuching, Samarahan, Bintulu and Sibu, the air quality readings were still moderate between 71 and 96.

Similarly, in other parts of Selangor, such as in Klang (85), Banting (88), Shah Alam (87), API levels recorded were “moderate”.

Other places nationwide such as Negri Sembilan, Perlis, Johor, Pahang, Perak, Penang, Kelantan and Terengganu also recorded “moderate” API levels.

The only state which recorded a “good” API reading was Alor Setar with a level of 46.

According to updates from the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre on Saturday, hotspots with localised smoke plumes were detected in Riau and Pulau Bangka, Sumatra and Sarawak.

“In West and Central Kalimantan, persistent hotspot clusters near Pontianak and Palangkaraya were observed to emit moderate to dense smoke haze.

“Prevailing winds to western Sarawak helped clear the air. There were also isolated hotspots with smoke plumes detected in various parts of Kalimantan, ” it said.

Cloud seeding to combat haze in Sarawak
Goh Pei Pei New Straits Times 12 Aug 19;

KUCHING: The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee has issued a notice to the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) to conduct cloud seeding to ease the haze in the central and northern parts of the state.

The committee in a statement said that cloud seeding operations were required in Miri, Kuala Baram, Sri Aman and Sibu, which had recorded unhealthy and hazardous Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

State Fire and Rescue Department director Khirudin Drahman Husaini said the forest and peatland fire in Kuala Baram, which started on Saturday had been contained.

However, the area continued to produce smoke, and this caused the API readings in northern Sarawak to remain high.

"So, this is the problem (smoke from the burned site). Besides, there's no rain that could help to clear the haze.

"We have been informed that we will be conducting cloud seeding, but I don't have the details," he said when contacted.

The poor air quality in Miri has been attributed to forest and peat fires, which saw over 600ha of land go up in smoke.

Two stations at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) and SK Kuala Baram 2 had recorded unhealthy and hazardous level for the past three days.

As of 5pm today, SK Kuala Baram 2 recorded an API of 353, Miri (299), Sibu (179) and Sri Aman (108).

The Fire and Rescue department has responded to 332 bush, forest and peat fires since Aug 1, including 36 cases today.

The State Disaster Management Committee will also hold a meeting in Miri, to discuss on efforts to tackle the issue, tomorrow (Tuesday).

Sarawak Education Director Dr Azhar Ahmad said no schools will be affected by haze as it is currently the week-long school semester break.

Sibu residents urged to avoid open burning
ANDY CHUA The Star 12 Aug 19;

SIBU: Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) wants its residents to refrain from carrying out open burning.

Though the air quality in the district was still not bad despite forest fires in the neighbouring Indonesian province of West Kalimantan, people here should avoid open burning, said its chairman Sempurai Petrus Ngelai.

Speaking at a press conference after a council meeting, Sempurai said he instructed the standing committee for environment and public health under its new chairman, Kong Chek King, to come up with an action plan on open burning.

Transboundary haze from Indonesia caused by large scale open clearing of the forest had badly affected parts of the state in previous years.

According to news report, the number of hotspots in West Kalimantan had increased from six on Aug 6 to 12 the next day, contributing to higher Air Pollution Index (API) readings in Sarawak.

Miri recorded a “very unhealthy” API reading of 391 as of 2pm on Saturday, while SK Kuala Baram 2 had an “unhealthy” API level of 135.

On the fixed RM300 monthly allowance for all councillors in the 24 state councils, Sempurai said although it was a good move, it was hardly sufficient for a semi-urban and rural council like SRDC.

“The RM300 allowance plus meeting allowance is not enough for our councillors as we are a semi-urban and rural council. We cover a big area of more than 6, 000 sq km with 300 longhouses and two townships of SibuJaya and Selangau Bazaar.

“We have only 31 councillors who need to spend to go to the ground, ” he said.

Sempurai said due to its sheer size, the district council needed the public to work closely with them by being their eyes and ears on issues that affect them.

“We need public assistance so that we can function more effectively, ” he added.

The team, he said, is made up of 16 new councillors while the rest had been re-appointed.

“We are a mixture of old and new faces. I have reminded senior councillors to guide the new ones, ” he added.