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KUALA LUMPUR: The Klang Valley’s haze situation improved yesterday following brief showers but three areas were still considered “unhealthy” according to the Air Pollutant Index (API).
The three areas were Port Klang (114), Kuala Selangor (109) and Shah Alam (103). The department classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as “good”, 51 to 100 as “moderate”, 101 to 200 as “unhealthy”, 201 to 300 as “very unhealthy” and more than 300 as “hazardous”.
Department of Environment (DOE) director-general Halimah Hassan said there were improvements in API readings nationwide yesterday.
“Hopefully, the readings will keep going down. Short spells of rain do help the situation but they only provide temporary relief.
“The Meteorological Department has predicted the dry season would last until September. So, it is especially important now to ensure there is no open burning.” DOE’s 52 air-quality monitoring stations nationwide recorded 10 areas with “good” air quality and 38 with “moderate” readings.
Though the readings were improving, Halimah said the air quality was dependent on the situation in Sumatra, where forest fires have been reported, as well as wind and weather conditions.
“The hotspots in Sumatra are still increasing and satellite images still show moderate haze being blown here from there.”
Satellite images from the Singapore Meteorological Service showed there were 163 hotspots in Sumatra at 4.15pm yesterday, which was double the number of hotspots detected on Saturday. Nine hotspots were recorded in Sumatra on Friday.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr S.R. Manalan cautioned those with respiratory problems, especially asthma, and the elderly to start wearing face masks.
Dr Manalan said the haze usually worsened during the afternoons and advised students who walked home from school to use face masks.
“Drink a lot of water and stay indoors as much as possible.”
People should also refrain from doing vigorous exercise, he added.
On the provision of free masks for students, Deputy Education Minister Dr Puad Zakarshi said these were usually distributed by the Health Ministry.
“We will consider it after receiving advice from the Environment Department and the Health Ministry.”
In Kuching, the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) warned that the state could see a return of the haze if the dry season continued and the winds in Kalimantan changed direction and started blowing northwards.
“NREB monitors detected an abnormally high number of hotspots in Kalimantan on Saturday.
“It would only be a matter of time before the state experiences haze again,” a senior NREB official said.
With additional reporting by Desmond Davidson