PETALING JAYA: The haze hovering over the country finally breached the hazardous level when the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading in Miri, Sarawak, reached almost 400 due to peat fires there.The town has seen API readings above 300 since early yesterday morning.
Another area with an “unhealthy” API reading was Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor.
A check with the Department of Environment’s (DoE) API website showed that the reading at the Institute Latihan Perindustrian (ILP) monitoring station in Miri was 390 as of 5pm yesterday.
Another monitoring station in SK Kuala Baram 2 recorded an “unhealthy” API reading of 137 as
of 5pm, having seen a steady “unhealthy” reading since early morning.
Both the ILP and SK Kuala Baram 2 stations are located in the Kuala Baram district of Miri.
Residents in Kuala Baram were told to stay indoors after the API reading reached hazardous levels.
“The API in Kuala Baram has reached close to 400. Stay indoors and if it is absolutely necessary to go out, use a mask, ” said assistant minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datuk Len Talif Salleh.
The poor air quality in Kuala Baram is believed to be caused by peat fires in the area.
“Let us hope for a favourable wind direction to blow away the smoke from the peat fires and for rain to come in the next few days, ” said Len Talif.
Firefighters have been battling peat fires in the Kuala Baram district since the start of the month.
As of yesterday, however, the blaze was still raging in two areas covering some 14ha and 28ha.
As of 5pm, Johan Setia in Klang recorded an “unhealthy” API level of 116.
The Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) said as of Friday, there were four hotspots in Malaysia and 103 in Indonesia.
“Three hotspots were detected in Sarawak and one in Peninsula Malaysia. Kalimantan has 93 and Sumatra has four, ” it said.
In Ipoh, Perak Environment Committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari reminded all schools to be vigilant.
He said school principals and teachers had been advised to get the latest API readings from either the DoE or MetMalaysia before organising any outdoor activities.
“We want the schools to be more informed about the current haze situation to ensure that the students under their care do not fall ill, ” he added.
The API readings in all five stations in Perak were moderate at between 59 and 73.
As of 5pm yesterday, the reading was 67 in Taiping, 73 in Tasek Ipoh, 68 in Pegoh Ipoh, 66 in Seri Manjung and 59 in Tanjung Malim.
API levels of 51 to 100 are classified as moderate, while those between 101 and 200 are unhealthy, between 201 and 300 very unhealthy and above 300 hazardous.