Air quality and visibility worsen in most parts of country

Posted on September 8, 2011. Filed under: Pollution |

-The Star- PETALING JAYA: People with respiratory problems have been advised to stay indoors and take precautions after air quality worsened in most parts of the county, with Klang Valley recording poor visibility and moderately bad air quality.

The haze caused by the overnight increase of hotspots from 62 to 120 in Sumatra, Indonesia, caused the sky in the Klang Valley and other cities and towns to be overcast.

Most areas around the city as well as certain northern states also recorded a drop in visibility levels.

A Meteorological Department spokesman said the haze would “come and go” as the southwest monsoon winds would blow it over from the burning hotspots in Sumatra.

Morning gloom: This image captured at the Federal Highway at 8.30am shows an overcast sky. The Klang Valley recorded poor visibility and moderately bad air quality yesterday. — SHAHRUL FAZRY ISMAIL / The Star

“Rain can do little to help as the haze may return once the rain is gone,” the spokesman said, adding that the monsoon season was expected to end by late October or early November.

As at 5pm yesterday, the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading on the Department of Environment’s (DOE) website for Petaling Jaya rose to 86 from 79 six hours earlier while that for Shah Alam was at 90, close to unhealthy levels.

Other areas where the API readings recorded moderate air quality were Port Klang (83) and Banting (71) in Selangor, and Batu Muda (84) and Cheras (77) in Kuala Lumpur. The API reading for Nilai, Negri Sembilan, was 80.

The reading for SK Jalan Pegoh in Ipoh was slightly worse at 82 while that for Seberang Jaya 2 in Prai was little changed from Tuesday.

A good API reading is from 0-50, moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-299) and hazardous (from 300 and above).

The Meteorological Department recorded visibility levels for Petaling Jaya and Subang as having dropped to 3km. At the same time on Tuesday, both these areas had visibility levels of up to 6km and 8km respectively.

Poor visibility was also recorded in Alor Setar and Ipoh, both at 3km, and Perai in Penang at 5km. Normal visibility levels are at 10km and above.

The latest satellite imagery on the DOE’s website showed the number of hotspots at 120 as at 3.45pm yesterday, an increase from 62 hotspots detected on Tuesday.

Although some rain has been forecast in the Klang Valley for next week, this is not expected to be heavy, the spokesman said.

“Most of the rain is expected to occur in remote areas like Hulu Selangor and Gombak. It’s not going to be as wet as the week preceding Hari Raya,” he said, adding that Peninsular Malaysia was still in the midst of the southwest monsoon, which was a generally dry period.

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