News: West coast hit by unhealthy air quality levels

The Star, 16 Jun 2013

PETALING JAYA: The haze has returned, this time to the west coast of the peninsula, after 46 hot spots were found in Sumatra, says the Department of Environment (DOE).

Its director-general Datuk Halimah Hassan said several areas in the country are experiencing unhealthy air quality levels following the location of the hot spots via satellite.

The hazy condition was also caused by the westerly monsoon season between June and September, which would see winds blowing from central Sumatera.

Images from the Asean Specialised Metrological Centre yesterday found that the Air Pollutant Index (API) levels were unhealthy in Malacca City (101), Muar (103) and Pasir Gudang, (127).

API reading is considered good when the reading is between 0 and 50, moderate (51 to 100), unhealthy (101 to 200), very unhealthy (201 to 300), and hazardous (above 300).

She added that although the dry spell had resulted in six peat soil fires in Selangor, the fires were not contributory to the present haze and were being put out.

She advised the people to refrain from carrying out open burning and to alert the fire department or the DOE at 1-800-88-2727.

In Muar, district police chief Asst Supt Nordin Osman said operators of vessels, especially fishing trawlers, are advised to navigate with care along the Straits of Malacca and the Muar estuary here due to thick haze.

He said the haze had enveloped the district over the past four days, but it worsened yesterday with visibility dropping to below one nautical mile (1.8km).

“We advise all ship captains plying the Straits to be alert for passing fishing trawlers,” he said yesterday.

Meanwhile, Muar Health Depart-ment officer Dr Mohd Zulkipli Othman advised schools to limit outdoor activities for students during the hazy period.

“People, especially those with asthma and breathing problems, should stay indoors and drink plenty of water,” he added.

A check at the Muar river estuary at 3pm yesterday showed it was covered with thick haze and visibility along the coastal area was low.