Air pollutant index readings in Penang at unhealthy levels

GEORGE TOWN: The odour of wood smoke hangs over Penang as the air pollutant index of one meteorological station showed that the air pollutant index (API) is at an unhealthy level of 145 at 9am on Monday (April 17).

The Department of Environment air pollutant measurement station in Prai recorded 136 an hour before that and levels were moderate in the 80s and 90s on Sunday (April 16).

Stations in Balik Pulau and Batu Uban recorded moderate levels of 82 and 96 respectively.

Meanwhile, the World Air Quality Index website ( independent air pollutant measuring device in Tanjung Bungah recorded a much higher API level of 155, based on a particle size of 2.5 microns.

According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre's (ASMC) website, no hotspots indicating substantial open burning are happening in Malaysia and only a single hotspot has detected on Sumatra island.

However, satellites have registered hundreds of hotspots spread across millions of hectares in eastern Myanmar and throughout Laos.

It is believed that these hotspots are the result of farmers practising traditional slash-and-burn agriculture, which entails large swathes of woodlands being cleared and then burned to enrich the soil with potassium and phosphate while killing pests.

ASMC's website shows that weak southerly winds along the coast of western Myanmar are blowing some of the resultant smoke towards southern Thailand and Malaysia.

Thailand is suffering even more, with an air pollutant measuring station in Phuket recording a very unhealthy level of 184.

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