KUCHING (Bernama): The drastic increase in the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings to above hazardous level in Sri Aman, near here, was due to the high volume of smoke brought by the winds from Kalimantan, Indonesia, where many hotspots were detected.
Acting Sarawak Department of Environment (DOE) director Ahmad Saifful Salihin said Sri Aman's location, which is the nearest to the neighbouring country, made it to be the worst affected.
He did not rule out the possibility of the air quality in Sri Aman, which now has the highest API in the country, to worsen if the number of hotspots in Kalimantan continued to increase.
"The wind is now blowing from the southwest to Sri Aman carrying haze across the Sarawak border. So, the determining factor for air quality here (Sri Aman) is the wind direction, as well as the number of hotspots in Kalimantan, ” he said when met by Bernama Friday (Sept 20).
At 4pm Friday, the API reading in Sri Aman was 409.
The API reading in the area increased drastically since 8am, which was at 402, and continued to increase until the hazardous level, from only 236 at midnight.
Last Tuesday, the State Disaster Management Committee said it was prepared for a possibility of a state of emergency to be declared due to the haze if the API reading exceeds 500.
Apart from trans-boundary haze, the air quality in Sri Aman was also affected due to forest fire, covering about 200ha, in the district.
As of today, about 80 hectares of the area were still on fire.
An API of between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; 51 and 100, moderate; 101 and 200, unhealthy; 201 and 300, very unhealthy and 300 and above, hazardous. - Bernama