(File pic) Smoke from bush and forest fires due to the current hot spell has registered unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at two stations in Pahang today. (NSTP/ MUHD ASYRAF SAWAL)

KUANTAN: Smoke from bush and forest fires due to the current hot spell has registered unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at two stations in Pahang today.

According to the Department of Environment (DoE), the air quality level in Rompin which breached the “very unhealthy” level yesterday registered an API of 191 while Balok Baru reached 158 at 2pm today.

The air quality in Rompin showed slight improvement when it dropped to 157 earlier today but gradually increased to 191 at noon today and is just nine points away from the very unhealthy stage of 200.

A Fire and Rescue Department spokesman said the deteriorating air quality recorded by the Balok Baru station was mainly due to the forest and bush fires near Gebeng which have yet to be completely doused.

He said the direction of the wind also played a crucial part.

“During the day, the strong wind will push the smoke to other areas and sometimes a certain area will be covered in haze. Only heavy rain will be able to clear the haze and improve the API reading,” he said.

Checks revealed that the state Education Department has no plans to close schools unless they receive instructions from the ministry but the department has informed schools in the affected areas to minimise outdoor activities.

At 2pm, besides Rompin and Balok Baru, two stations in Alor Gajah and Bukit Rambai, both in Melaka, remain in the “unhealthy” range.

The air pollution level is categorised as good from zero to 50, moderate (51-100), unhealthy (101-200), very unhealthy (201-300) and hazardous (301 and more).