West coast air hits unhealthy levels

Posted on September 9, 2011. Filed under: Environment and Livelihoods |

-The Malaysian Insider-

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The air quality in the west coast of the peninsula continued to worsen today as Nilai hit 101 on the Air Pollutant Index (API) at 11am while several other west coast towns and cities such as Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam were just below the 100 threshold for unhealthy air.

This comes as the haze, a dreaded annual phenomenon caused by fires in Sumatra, returned this week turning the normally blue skies on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia a dirty grey.

Readings provided by the Department of Environment show that the API in Petaling Jaya worsened to 94 at 11am, up from 87 at 7am while Shah Alam’s air quality dropped to 93 from 87 and Bukit Rambai in Malacca deteriorated from 96 to 98.

Satellite imaging provided by the Singapore Meteorological Service showed numerous hot spots and dense haze in Sumatra with prevailing winds blowing in the direction of the peninsula.

According to the meteorological service website, the haze is transboundary smoke from land and forest fires during the traditional dry period between June and October caused primarily by land clearing in Indonesia, particularly Sumatra and Kalimantan.

Despite widespread public frustration over the annual haze issue, present and past administrations have failed to put an end to the annual public health hazard.

Repeated attempts to contact Foreign Minister Datuk Seri Anifah Aman were unsuccessful.

The Mahathir administration had at one point kept API readings under wraps, reportedly out of concern that it could hurt tourism, but the restriction on publishing API readings was subsequently lifted by the Abdullah administration.

 

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