Transboundary haze affecting Malaysia as scorching heat expected to continue

GEORGE TOWN: Various neighbouring countries have reported escalating hotspots and haze as the dry weather is causing an increase in fires.

The scorching heat and pollution have affected the northern states of Penang, Kedah and Perlis.

In Penang, despite the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings for the state showing moderate air pollution on the island and mainland, visibility has been affected following the haze.

In Balik Pulau, an API of 69 was recorded on Saturday (April 15) and George Town at 78, while Tanjung Bungah recorded unhealthy levels at 118.

The mainland shows a reading of between 74 and 83 at various locations, placing them under the “moderate” category.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and above 301 is deemed hazardous.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) reported recently of a severe transboundary haze in various places in Myanmar, Thailand and Laos.

It said the Level 3 alerts at the Mekong sub-region show that there are significant and persistent hotspot activities with widespread moderate to dense smoke haze observed over two or more consecutive days.

With the dry weather persisting and prevailing winds blowing smoke haze from the hotspots towards neighbouring Asean countries, Malaysia is bound to feel the heat and haze.

"The current dry conditions are expected to persist in the coming days, with the prevailing winds forecast to blow from the northeast,” it said.

It added that the hotspots and smoke haze activities in the Mekong sub-region have escalated since the start of the northern Asean dry season in December 2022.

"Although near-to-above normal rainfall is predicted for the Mekong sub-region in the coming months, prolonged dry periods are still expected, and the hotspot and smoke haze situation is likely to stay elevated till the end of the traditional dry season in May 2023," it added.

The Mekong sub-region comprises Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam.

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