GEORGE TOWN: Penangites woke up to the haze which is expected to go on for the next few days.
Penang Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh says the state government will give out face masks to the public if the Air Pollutant Index (API) goes above 75.
A check on the Department of Environment website at 3pm yesterday showed that the readings in Seberang Prai, Seberang Jaya, Minden and Balik Pulau were hovering between 63 and 65.
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy, and 301 and above deemed hazardous.
Phee said they were keeping a close watch on the weather pattern, adding that the state was worried as the API was rising.
“We expect worsening air quality although the air readings are still classified as moderate.
“Drink more water and avoid being caught in the rain as it could be acid rain,” he said.
“Under extreme hot weather, the rainwater which comes into contact with pavements or roads could generate a ‘steam’ that is not good for health,” he added.
Phee said the haze was brought about by the Southwest Monsoon and the Northwest Monsoon, while the heat wave was also causing health problems.
“This is due to the suspended particles likely from the Lombok earthquake.
“Right now, there are no peat fires or hot spots in the region, and there are no flight cancellations,” he said.
State Health Committee chairman Dr Afif Bahardin said the hazy condition would not cause any major health issues other than irritation to the eyes, nose and throat.
“Those who are feeling unwell, especially the elderly and children, and those with chronic heart or lung conditions, are advised to seek medical attention immediately.”
Many people were seen buying “antelope’s horn and mak dong” drinks from a shop in Bayan Baru that sells an assortment of traditional medicinal teas.
Supervisor Wong Wai Ching, 50, claims the homemade drinks, selling at RM11.20 for a 500ml bottle, could help cool the body.
“It also helps if you have a sore throat, loss of voice or are feeling feverish,” she said.