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Hazy Weather is Back

The view of the city from the top of Jalan Kapas, Bangsar

If you looked out the window this morning expecting to see clear skies and a beautiful view, you would’ve been greatly disappointed to be greeted by a hazy view. Every year, Malaysia goes through the inevitable haze season, due to rapid burning of forests in Kalimantan and Indonesia, and this year seems to be no exception.

Klang residents are the worst hit this time around, with the Kampung Johan Setia recording a hazardous air pollutant index (API) reading of 342 as of 7pm last night, and it reduced to an API reading of 283 by midnight, which is still cause for concern. The Star Online reported that the areas affected are Kota Kemuning, Bandar Bukit Rimau, Bandar Puteri, Taman Sentosa, Bandar Bukit Tinggi, Bandar Botanic, and Bandar Parklands. Residents claim the haze was due to open burning activities at Johan Setia, which has not been resolved for 10 years despite promises by politicians to remedy the situation. Johan Setia comprises plantations, farm land occupied by small holders, and several housing estates, and the burning was committed mainly by residents themselves.

As of 4pm today, the places that recorded unhealthy API readings are in:

  • Kangar, Perlis (143)
  • Alor Setar, Kedah (147)
  • Sungai Petani, Kedah (114)
  • Seberang Jaya, Penang (112)
  • Seberang Prai, Penang (103)

The Star Online also reported that in Sarawak, the haze returned due to the rising number of hotspots in Kalimantan and open burning in the state, with the State’s Natural Resources and Environment Board controller, Peter Sawal saying that there were 121 hotspots detected across the border on Tuesday, August 14, which was more than double from the day before. He added that the haze in the state could last until the end of the month, if the weather remains dry and there is no change in wind direction.

The report also said that firemen were battling wildfires in Miri, specifically in Mukah, Bintulu, and Bintangor, where about 10 acres of wildfires have been burning since Tuesday evening in Kampung Assykirin in Bintulu, Daro peatfires were tackled in Mukah, and in Bintangor, wildfires were contained at 60 acres at the Felcra Bunut plantations.

Haze FAQ

What is API?

Haze is measured and communicated to public in terms of Air Pollutant Index (API).The API calculation system is based on the concentration of fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers (PM2.5) over 24 hours. The Department of Environment (DOE) monitors the air quality status through a network of 52 automatic stations.

What do the measurements mean?

An API reading of 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and anything above 300 is hazardous.

Who are the most affected by the haze?

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Those who have heart or respiratory diseases, the elderly, pregnant women, and children should take extra care and precautions during the hazy season. Wear face masks when heading out to avoid any health complications.

Why does the API not correspond to hazy condition & reduced visibility outside?

This is simply because the API calculation system is based on the concentration of fine particulate matter measuring less than 2.5 micrometers over the last 24 hours. For example, measurement at 8.00 am today, takes into account the average concentration of PM2.5 from 8.00 am the day before. This factor sometimes causes the readings to not match the visibility at that time or does not reflect the situation outside which is very hazy. It happens especially when an area starts to get hazy. Thus, the readings will take some time to reach “unhealthy” level due. The haze will get worse when high level of water vapour in the air (relative humidity) surrounds the fine particles, causing the visibility to worsen.

If you would like to check on the API reading, visit apims.doe.gov.my/public_v2/home.html

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