39 students from five schools in Pasir Gudang suffer breathing difficulties

JOHOR BARU: Another 39 students from five schools in Pasir Gudang here experienced breathing difficulties and vomiting, believed to be caused by air pollution.

The incident happened on Thursday (July 18) just when the Department of Environment (DOE) announced it would take action against 18 illegal chemical factories be operating in the Pasir Gudang area.

Johor Health, Culture and Heritage Committee chairman Mohd Khuzzan Abu Bakar said the five schools were SK Tanjung Puteri Resort with 30 students, SK Kopok (six students), and one student each from SK Kota Masai, SK Pasir Gudang 4 and SMK Tanjung Puteri Resort.

He added that as of 2pm on July 18, the students showed symptoms of breathing difficulties and vomiting.

"All of them received treatment at Pasir Gudang Health Clinic and Masai Health Clinic.

"However, none of the students were referred to Sultan Ismail Hospital for further medical treatment," he said in a statement here.

Mohd Khuzzan added that the Health Department has taken urine samples from the students to determine the cause of the symptoms.

He stressed that the state government has never taken the air pollution incident in Pasir Gudang lightly.

"Until now, all agencies involved keep on conducting monitoring from time to time including the air quality in the area.

"In fact, I been informed that DOE will reward any individuals that are able to provide information on pollution in Pasir Gudang," he added.

It was reported that DOE director-general Norlin Jaafar said so far, they have taken action against three factories in a series of joint operations with other agencies.

Norlin said DOE officers had checked 257 registered chemical factories.

The three companies, located within a 3km radius, reportedly released high levels of gases such as methyl mercaptan, acrolein and acrylonitrile.

On the checks on 257 factories, she said at least 12 stop-work orders had been issued along with 60 notices and 136 compounds totalling RM270,000.

Norlin urged the public to forward information on pollution cases to the department as they were offering a reward of RM5,000.


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