PETALING JAYA: The air quality over the whole of the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia is showing signs of deterioration in the wake of the current hot and dry weather coupled with increased cross-border pollution.
Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam even advised the elderly to stay indoors and commuters to wear masks.
Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Rosnani Ibarahim said in a statement that the greater pollution load was borne by South-West Monsoon winds from Sumatra, where she said the number of hot spots had increased to 254 from 84 on Sunday.
The air quality in five areas of the peninsula is unhealthy, while it is moderate in 43 areas and good in two places, according to Rosnani, with four spots in the Klang Valley Gombak, Klang, Shah Alam and Petaling Jaya showing deterioration.
The air quality over Manjung, Perak, also remains unhealthy, she added, but over other parts of the peninsula's west coast it remains moderate.
Rosnani said that in the northern peninsula, including Seberang Perai, the situation had improved and was at moderate level.
Ali, in a press statement, ordered all outdoor school activities to stop temporarily.
He said the Air Pollution Index (API) in the state still remained at the moderate level except for Bukit Rambai, which was unhealthy.
Up till 11am yesterday, the API reading in the city was 63 while it was 92 in Bukit Rambai. Visibility in the state was about 1km as at 3pm yesterday.
Ali also said that the state environment department had instructed two staff members to be in a helicopter to check on air quality in the state.
Asthmatic patients and old folk are encouraged to stay indoors while commuters are advised to wear masks on the road as a preventive measure, said the Chief Minister.
Motorists were also advised to switch on their lights during the day as a precaution.
State Housing, Local Government, Environment and Transport Committee chairman Datuk Wira Poh Ah Tiam, in a press statement, said that two flights at Batu Berendam airport were delayed by an hour each due to poor visibility.
DOE Air division director Che Asmah Ibrahim said DOE had sent a letter to its Indonesian counterpart in Jakarta to investigate the matter and take measures to reduce the haze.
We had sent a letter on Monday and we expect them to reply in about three or four days, she said.
KLIA general manager Azmi Murad confirmed that there were no flights delayed or cancelled since the haze worsened.
He said the visibility on Monday at the airport was 3km and there were no delays or cancellations yesterday.
He said all flights would be on schedule as long as visibility was within operation tolerance.
The DOE advised the public to help put out small open fires and report major ones to 03 8889-1972 or to the Fire and Rescue Department at 03 8888-0336.
The penalty for open burning is a fine of up to RM500,000 or up to five years' jail, or both.
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