Three places record unhealthy air

Hazy morning: The iconic KLCC twin towers could hardly be seen from Taman Tasik Titiwangsa yesterday at 10am. — FAIHAN GHANI/The Star

PETALING JAYA: Three places in Malaysia – Nilai in Negri Sembilan, Cheras in Kuala Lumpur, and Sri Aman in Sarawak – recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

As at 5pm yesterday, the API reading on the Environment Department website for Nilai was at 137 while it was 109 in Sri Aman.

The reading in Cheras was 104 and 100 in Banting, Selangor.

The reading for Sri Aman, which borders Kalimantan, Indonesia, in Borneo, shot up to 152 at 5am before gradually reducing throughout the day.

An API reading of 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 is moderate, and 101-200 is unhealthy. The API is calculated over a 24-hour running average of the most dominant parameter.

Other stations in the country that also had very high moderate readings were Shah Alam (98), Putrajaya (98), Petaling Jaya (85), Klang (87), Batu Muda (85) in the Klang Valley and IPD Serian in Sarawak (92).

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre’s (ASMC) website indicated that as on Saturday, there were 351 hotspots in Kalimantan, 26 hotspots in Sumatra, and six hotspots in Sabah and Sarawak.

“Isolated hotspots were detected in Kalimantan and Sumatra from the overnight satellite pass. Moderate to dense smoke haze was observed to envelop southeastern Kalimantan and drift towards the northwest from morning satellite imagery.

“Slight smoke haze was also observed over parts of West Kalimantan. Slight to moderate smoke plumes were seen to emanate from a few hotspots in southern Sumatra and southern Kalimantan, drifting in a northwest direction. A few stations in western Borneo and southern Sumatra are reporting unhealthy to very unhealthy air quality,” it said on its website.

Malaysia is currently in the south-west monsoon, which is expected to last until later this month and, according to the Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), might see haze if open burning is not controlled.

Early last month, hazy conditions were seen over Kuching with the state capital recording API reading of 91.

On Aug 30, Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change Minister Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad said it had issued a letter to Malaysian plantation companies, subsidiaries and Malaysian-linked companies operating in Indonesia on measures to prevent open burning in plantation areas

Nik Nazmi said the letter was intended to remind the companies to take measures to prevent the occurrence of plantation and peat fires, which are the main cause of transboundary haze pollution in the region.

He said efforts would also continue with the Foreign Ministry through its representative offices in Indonesia.

The government has taken several measures to curb open burning, including activating the National Open Burning Action Plan on April 2.

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