The Star, 4 Mar 2014
PETALING JAYA: Schools must stop holding activities outside the classroom for high-risk students if the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading exceeds 100, said Education deputy director-general Datuk Sufa’at Tumin.
High-risk students include those prone to asthma or who have breathing difficulties.
If the API reading was higher than 150, all activities beyond the classroom should be suspended, said Sufa’at.
“We will continue to monitor the situation based on the daily API readings issued by the Department of Environment (DOE),” he said.
Sufa’at was asked if schools could stop extracurricular activities if the haze situation worsened following reports of unhealthy API readings in several areas in Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
Port Klang saw unhealthy levels of haze throughout Sunday, with a final reading of 118.
Seremban recorded an API reading of 111 as of 5pm, while Selangor’s Banting hit 108.
Putrajaya, too, was smog-ridden with a reading as high as 127 in the afternoon. It improved to 112 later.
According to the DOE, an API reading of 50 and below is regarded as good, 51-100 is moderate, 101-200 is unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and above 300 hazardous.
Schools in Manjung, Perak, and areas in Selangor were closed in June last year when the API levels hit 322 in Manjung and 484 in Port Klang.
Schools are allowed to close if the API exceeds 250, after notifying the Education Ministry. But if the API exceeds 300, the schools can close without the ministry’s approval.
In KLANG, the Selangor government will talk to the Federal Government to initiate the necessary measures if the haze gets worse.
State executive council member in charge of tourism, consumer affairs and environment Elizabeth Wong said the Federal Government had the authority to call for the shutdown of schools and factories should the API hit red.
“We’ll need to go through the standard operating procedures as stipulated in the haze action plan,” she said.
Currently, Klang appears to be one of the worst-affected places in Selangor with very low visibility in certain areas, including Port Klang.
Wong said that apart from the extra hot weather and dry spell, the situation was exacerbated by people burning dried leaves littering their compounds.
“Please stop all forms of open burning,” she said.
She reminded people to take necessary steps such as drinking more water as well as limiting outdoor activities during this period.
Meanwhile, taxi driver V. Muniandy said it was becoming difficult driving in some parts of Klang, especially near Port Klang.
“The smog is coming into the vehicle through the ventilation ducts and I smell of smoke at the end of the day,” he said, adding that it had caused him shortness of breath.
Sub-contractor M. Siva said his contract workers refused to go out and work due to the haze.