PASIR GUDANG: Residents affected by the recent air pollution incident here want more efficient hazardous gas detection machines – similar to those used in Finland and Japan – to be placed in all 111 schools here.
The request was made during a town hall session on environmental issues at Pasir Gudang Indoor Stadium that was attended by Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal yesterday.
SMK Nusa Damai parent-teacher association (PTA) president Ridzwan Kamaruddin claimed that the gas detection machine currently used by the Department of Environment (DOE) is outdated and needed to be replaced.
“During the air pollution incident in June, the Education Department had ordered schools to shut down classrooms situated on the third and fourth floors but there were still students (on the lower floors) who were affected.
“Our school PTA has taken the initiative to collect money from parents to buy our own gas detection machine but what about those in other areas where the PTAs are not as rich, ” he asked.
He added that students still showed symptoms of nausea and vomiting even when the gas detection machines provided by the government indicated zero pollution.
“It means that there were gasses that the present machines could not detect and this should be addressed immediately, ” he said, adding that the state government should also set up a foundation to help the victims.
Taman Air Biru Residents Association committee chairman Osman Ibrahim said the government should start a green initiative to plant more trees especially around industrial areas situated close to residential areas.
Badan Bertindak Penduduk Isu Pencemaran Alam (BBPIPA) chairman Muhammad Fauzi Rohani, on the other hand, asked if the gases found in the recent pollution incident were harmful to humans.
“We want to know what are the effects of methyl mercaptan, acrolein and acrylonitrile on the human body and whether they pose a risk to us, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Johor DOE director Wan Abdul Latiff Wan Jaffar said the department was still waiting for the latest equipment to replace the current gas detection machines.
“DOE is planning to place 30 automated gas detection machines in Pasir Gudang that can be monitored online 24-hours.
“We are also looking at setting up a branch office in Pasir Gudang for a quick response team in case any pollution occurs, ” he said.
State Health Department (Public Health) deputy director Dr Shaharom Nor Azian Che Mat Din said toxic gases found in the recent pollution incident had not reached a harmful level to humans.
“Those who show symptoms of nausea, vomiting and dry eyes should get immediate treatment at the nearby health clinic or hospital.
“However, the detected gases have not reached a stage that can permanently harm the human body, ” she said.
Two incidents of air pollution, the first in March and the most recent one in June, affected thousands of people, many of them school students from the area.
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