PETALING JAYA: The haze could become worse should the smoke from hotspots in neighbouring Indonesia cross over to the country.
There are currently 380 hotspots in Sumatra and nine in Kalimantan, up from 200 on Monday, according to the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar.
Dr Wan Junaidi said the Environment Department was closely monitoring the situation.
The department, he said, was monitoring the status and trend of air quality hourly due to the uncertainty of the haze (pattern).
The increase in the number of hotspots in Sumatra and Kalimantan could potentially cause the haze (in Indonesia) to cross the border into the West Coast of Malaysia and Sarawak, he said yesterday.
“Seven hotspots have been identified in the country, one in Sabah and the other six in Pahang,” said Dr Wan Junaidi.
The Fire and Rescue Department’s assistant director-general (operations) Zulkarnain Mohd Kassim said the department would also closely monitor the hotspots.
“Now it’s still raining quite a lot, so it helps us in putting out the hotspots quite fast,” Zulkarnain said.
He said the rain meant there were fewer hotspots this year than during the same period last year, adding that the department was prepared to respond fast should the hotspots in the country increase.
The Malaysian Meteorological Department’s National Weather Centre senior meteorologist Dr Hisham Mohd Anip said the dry season started late this year, which could explain the delayed presence of hotspots and haze.
“It usually starts in July but we had a lot of rain in July and August this year.
“The rainfall is considered above normal as during the south-west monsoon season, the rainfall is normally very little,” said Hisham.
He said the situation was similar in Indonesia, which was why the haze season started late this year.
“We are lucky this year, because the haze only started last week (in this country) and will hopefully clear out in two to three weeks when the inter-monsoon season starts,” he said.
As of 6pm yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index reached the unhealthy level in two areas – Bakar Arang in Sungai Petani (103) and Nilai, Negri Sembilan (101).