Air quality drops in M’sia due to haze

Posted on July 7, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

The Star/Asia News Network

SHAH ALAM – The air quality in Selangor has been affected by some 250 “hot spots” in Sumatra, Indonesia.

The authorities would take strict action against those involved in open burning as it would worsen the air pollution, said state executive councillor Elizabeth Wong.

She added that the hazy skies might remain for a while due to the hot weather, with the Meteorological Department issuing a fire hazard warning.

Wong said the authorities had issued 28 compounds and charged 13 parties in court this year, with 11 more cases to be brought to court soon.

“Our main concern is peat soil because peat fires are hard to extinguish. There is no water source nearby, such as rivers, ponds or hydrants,” she told reporters yesterday.

She said in fire-prone Johan Setia, Klang, a check dam had been set up to speed up the process of extinguishing fires.

In George Town, the haze continued to worsen with the air quality almost reaching an unhealthy level in certain areas in Penang.

The Department of Environment (DOE) website indicated that the Air Pollution Index (API) in Seberang Jaya had reached 96 yesterday, just falling short of the unhealthy level of 101, compared with 84 on Tuesday.

In Prai and Universiti Sains Malaysia yesterday, the API levels were 77 and 80 respectively compared with 70 and 71 on Tuesday.

The API for unhealthy air quality is between 101 and 200 while a reading above 301 is hazardous.

A check with the state Meteorological Department showed that visibility levels throughout the state were between 5km and 7km.

Rain is also not expected over the next few days.

A DOE spokesman said that the haze was caused by a combination of factors including the open burning of rubbish, south-westerly winds carrying smoke from “hot spots” in Sumatra and the current hot weather.

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