GEORGE TOWN: The scorching heat and haze blanketing Penang was dampened by brief morning showers on Tuesday (April 18).
The short bout of rain in the wee hours of Tuesday morning increased air quality in the state after air pollutant index (API) readings were on an upward trajectory over the past two days.
API readings as at 9.31am indicate the current levels in Balik Pulau at 81, falling under the "moderate" category, while at Batu Uban and Tanjung Bungah it indicates 94 and 96 respectively, falling under the "unhealthy" category.
The mainland shows a reading of between 88 and 91.
An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good, while 51 to 100 is moderate, 101 to 200 is unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy and above 301 is deemed hazardous.
On Monday (April 17), the air quality in Penang plummeted as the air pollutant index at one meteorological station showed that the API was at an unhealthy level of 145.
The Environment Department 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 (www.waqi.info) 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 (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.
On Saturday (April 15), Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said the nation was bracing for the return of the haze due to the recent hot and dry conditions.