Hazy shades of misery


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  • Friday, 04 Sep 2015

Shrouded in haze: Motorists travelling along the Penang Bridge at 12.30pm.

THE haze has not stopped some die-hard hikers from trekking up Penang Hill.

Kili Hiking Group head Seah Soo Hock said his 18-member group was still having its regular hikes to Penang Hill even though air pollution had enveloped Penang.

“The haze will not deter our love for our favourite sports and recreational activities.

“Our members have no breathing problems. We are still enjoying our hikes,” he said.

He, however, observed that there were fewer hikers especially on days when the Air Pollution Index (API) readings spike.

“They probably fear the bad air quality and that the air could affect their health,” he said.

Based on the Department of Environment online portal, Seberang Jaya 2 station recorded unhealthy API levels from midnight to 9am but the reading dropped to 99 at 10am yesterday.

The station at Universiti Sains Malaysia showed 104 at 4am, and the figure improved a little to below 100 at 8am.

In Prai, the API was considered moderate. 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).

The horizontal visibility level recorded by the Malaysian Meteorological Department monitoring stations in Bayan Lepas was 6km before noon and reduced to 3km after that, while it was only 2km in Butterworth at 8am and increased to 4km at 9am, but its visibility level reduced again to 2km at 2pm.

State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh said the hazy weather in Penang was expected to last till November when the northeast monsoon would start.

“The state government has given out masks to primary school pupils because of the unhealthy air quality in the state,” he told a press conference in Komtar yesterday.

He said he had discussed the haze with Indonesia’s Minister of Environment during the Fifth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific in February last year.

“They assured me that they will do their best to curb open burning,” he said.

He added that the haze was also discussed between the Malaysian and Indonesian delegates attending the Sixth Regional 3R Forum in Asia and the Pacific in Male last month.

The Kedah Health Department has cancelled the ‘Gegar 10,000 Langkah’ Merdeka programme scheduled to be held in a few Kedah districts tomorrow.

The department has also instructed all health clinics to have adequate supply of face mask to prepare for any eventuality.

Health director Datuk Dr Norhizan Ismail said API readings had reached unhealthy levels.

“Alor Setar recorded 122, Bakar Arang in Sungai Petani 108 and Langkawi 80.

“All health clinics are ordered to be prepared to handle more cases due to the haze,” he said.

Dr Norhizan said health autho-rities would monitor the haze closely and advise the public accordingly.

“For now, it is better to avoid outdoor activities.

“It is best to stay indoors but wear a mask if you have to go out.

“Drink at least eight glasses of water daily and don’t carry out open burning,” he said.

Dr Norhizan said those who have symptoms such as cough, flu, asthma, sore-eyes and lung infections should seek help from health clinics immediately.

Meanwhile, Kedah Education, Transportation and Housing Committee chairman Datuk Tajul Urus Mat Zain has ordered the state Education Department to reduce outdoor activities of schools.

“The haze situation in the state is getting worse each day, everyone must not take the situation lightly.”

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Environment , Northern Region , haze , hikers , API

   

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