Haze emergency to be declared when API exceeds 500

Kuala Lumpur enveloped in haze on Tuesday afternoon.

PUTRAJAYA: A state of haze emergency will be declared when the air pollutant index (API) exceeds 500, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said today, as Sri Aman, Sarawak, hit the “hazardous” mark of 389 at 6pm.

It said such a situation had been declared in Kuching, Sarawak, on Sept 19, 1997, when the API reading was 650; on Aug 1, 2005 in Kuala Selangor and Port Klang, Selangor, when the API was 231; and on June 3, 2013 in Muar and Ledang in Johor, where the API exceeded 500.

The agency, which is monitoring the haze situation in the country, said cloud seeding will be carried out in Sarawak on or after Thursday, subject to weather and cloud conditions.

Areas with “very unhealthy” air quality this afternoon included Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan (207), Kuching in Sarawak (216) and Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor (232).

An API reading of between zero to 50 indicates good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and 300 and above hazardous.

A total of 531 schools, involving 363,991 students, were closed today, with 145 of the schools in Selangor, 298 in Sarawak, 63 in Negeri Sembilan and 25 in Putrajaya.

Nadma advised the public, especially those living in areas with unhealthy air, to reduce their outdoor activities.

For those driving in areas with an API of more than 300, like Sri Aman, it said they should switch on the headlamps of their vehicles.