PETALING JAYA: Air quality in Port Klang remained at hazardous levels as haze worsened over parts of Peninsular Malaysia with yet another day of dry skies.
The Air Pollutant Index (API) showed Port Klang’s hourly air quality readings remaining hazardous the entire day, with a reading of 308 at 7pm.
Banting also suffered hazardous air quality from midnight to 11am before dipping slightly to “very unhealthy” levels from noon and recording 209 at 7pm.
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous.
As at 7pm, 12 places recorded unhealthy readings: Muar (116), Bandaraya Melaka (109), Bukit Rambai (113), Nilai (133), Port Dickson (141), Seremban (119), Tanjung Malim (111), Kuala Selangor (114), Petaling Jaya (168), Shah Alam (157), Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur (142) and Cheras (122).
The Meteorological Department also recorded poor visibility in haze-shrouded areas, including reduced visibility of up to just 300m at its worst point in Petaling Jaya, followed by up to 600m in Subang and 1km in KLIA.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said the Department of Environment’s ban against open burning had now been extended to Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya effective Thursday.
“No open burning can be done in these areas except for certain activities such as cremation, religious purposes and barbecues. Those caught carrying out open burning can be fined up to RM500,000, jailed not more than five years or both,” he told reporters on Friday, adding that a maximum compound of RM2,000 could also be imposed for each offence.
Palanivel said as at March 12, DOE had detected 1,441 open burning cases, mostly involving farms (491), forest fires (296) and small open fires (270).
He also denied that the mounting number of cases were due to poor enforcement, adding that the ministry was having difficulty controlling the situation due to the dry weather, and that “sometimes, people just resorted to open burning”.
“We are distributing 13,000 face masks to students in schools in Selangor, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and Putrajaya which are in areas experiencing severe haze,” he said.
In JOHOR, state Health and Environment committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat advised people to refrain from outdoor activities and wear respiratory masks if they were susceptible to bad air.“Although the haze situation in Muar is still under control, the public should start taking precautionary measures to avoid falling ill,” he said.