Haze hits Malaysia, no area records ‘good’ air quality

Latest satellite pictures have identified 42 hotspots in Sumatera, three in Kalimantan and four in Pahang.

PETALING JAYA: The air quality in Indera Mahkota, Pahang, has reached the “unhealthy” level because of peat fires in Pekan, some 50km away, as haze continues to hit the country,

The Department of Environment said that as of 1pm today, the Air Pollutant Index (API) showed that none of the 64 areas which had their readings taken recorded “good” air quality.

In these areas, the air quality was “moderate”, while in Indera Mahkota, the air quality had reached “unhealthy” levels, with an API reading of 110.

An API reading of under 50 means the air quality is good, 51-100 (moderate), 101-200 (unhealthy), 201-300 (very unhealthy) and above 300 (hazardous).

According to the DOE’s website, “unhealthy” air presents risks to those with heart and lung conditions.

The department said all areas in Peninsular Malaysia’s west coast, Sabah and Sarawak were being affected by the haze coming from Sumatera and Kalimantan in Indonesia.

It said the peat fires at Kampung Pulau Manis in Pekan have yet to be fully extinguished.

“Peat fires which have reportedly broken out at Kuala Baram in Miri, Sarawak, have caused a spike in the API reading in Miri,” it said.

It said the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre has, based on satellite images, identified 42 hotspots in Sumatera, three in Kalimantan and four in Pahang.

The department said the National Open Burning Action Plan and National Haze Action Plan has been activated to coordinate the action taken by the relevant government agencies.

“State and local governments and land owners are advised to closely monitor areas which are easily and prone to catching fire such as garbage disposal sites, forests, peat land, fields, and agriculture and industrial land.

“The people are also reminded against open burning or allowing their land or premises to be encroached by irresponsible parties leading to open burning intentionally or otherwise,” it said.

Under the Environmental Quality Act 1974, those caught carrying out open burning can be fined up to RM500,000, jailed up to five years or both.