Get set for more hazy days on west coast

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 28 Jun 2005

PETALING JAYA: Visibility was reduced to about 2km for Penang as haze continued to shroud parts of the peninsula’s west coast.  

The Meteorological Services Department reported that visibility along the west coast had worsened by 5pm yesterday.  

Visibility in Penang and Prai dropped from 4km in the morning to only 2km at 5pm, while visibility for Lubok Merbau, Kedah was 3km. 

Towns with reduced visibility included Butterworth, Sitiawan and Ipoh where visibility dropped to 4km and Bayan Lepas, Subang Jaya, Petaling Jaya, and Batu Embun in Perak (5km).  

Visibility at Cameron Highlands was down to 6km and Temerloh 7km. Normal visibility is above 10km.  

MASKED: Pedestrians using masks to protect themselves as they venture out forlunch in Butterworth, one of the areas worst hit by the haze.

The situation is not likely to improve much as the department expects the west coast to be generally dry this week, with only slight showers forecast. 

Air Pollutant Index (API) readings also showed that air quality in parts of Penang and Perak had dropped to unhealthy levels. 

Department of Environment director-general Datuk Rosnani Ibarahim said raging fires in Sumatra had caused transboundary haze to envelope parts of the country, as south-westerly winds blew smoke and dust particles over the peninsula. 

Hotspots in Northern Sumatra went up from 331 on Monday last week to 508 on Friday, she added. 

“We are closely monitoring the situation and we hope the public will not worsen the situation by carrying out open burning activities,” said Rosnani. 

A total of 28 locations had moderate air quality, including some parts of the Klang Valley while 20 areas had good readings.  

In Seberang Prai, air quality dipped to the “unhealthy” level of between 101 and 200 on the API. 

Penang DOE assistant director Marzuki Mokahatar said the air quality was considered “very unhealthy” when the API reading was between 201 and 300, while danger level was between 301 and 500. 

“We appeal to all companies and individuals to stop open burning activities to help prevent the air quality from worsening,” he said yesterday.  

A Penang International Airport spokesman said there was no flight cancellation nor aircraft grounded because of the haze. 

In Ipoh, Perak Health, Science, and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng advised people to stay indoors where possible and limit outdoor activities.  

“Motorcyclists, people working outdoors and those with a high risk of falling ill should wear masks,” he added. 

DOE officials, he added, would increase their patrols to check on open burning, emissions from vehicles and sources of air pollution from factories.  

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