Friday, June 15, 2012

Haze returns to Klang Valley


Pollutant index reaches unhealthy level

THE federal capital and several parts of the country were blanketed by haze which blew in from Sumatra yesterday.

The air quality has deteriorated. Based on the Air Pollutant Index (API) chart at the Department of Environment's (DOE) website, the air in four areas -- Kuala Selangor, Port Klang, Cheras and Shah Alam -- had a high density of pollutants.

As of 5pm yesterday, Port Klang topped the chart with a reading of 149 followed by Kuala Selangor (129) Shah Alam (120), Cheras (105) and Batu Muda (99).

An air quality reading of 101 to 202 is considered "unhealthy", 51 to 100 is "moderate" and 0 to 50 is "good".

The air quality readings in some other areas: Petaling Jaya (99) and Banting (95) in Selangor; Seri Manjung, Perak (92), Tanah Merah, Kelantan (88), Tasek, Perak (86) and Seberang Prai, Penang (84).

The satellite image given by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed an increasing number of hotspots in Sumatra since Tuesday.

A DOE statement said strong winds from the southwest of Sumatra, which is across the Straits of Malacca, had blown in the direction of peninsula of Malaysia, causing the sudden haze.

The deteriorating air quality was first spotted in the early morning of Thursday in Alor Star and Sungai Petani.

In Shah Alam, a Selangor Fire and Rescue Department operations centre spokesman said a peat fire in a 83ha area in Banting since June 5 had been identified as one of the causes of the deteriorating air quality in the Klang Valley.

And a fire in a 90ha plantation in Sabak Bernam yesterday had made the condition worse.

"Several areas in Selangor, particularly Klang, Shah Alam and Sabak Bernam saw a dip in air quality," he said.

Meanwhile, the DOE has ordered a ban on open burning in all states.

As peat fires are known to be easily inflammable, the department has also implemented the standard operating procedure for the prevention of peat fires and conduct checks on gas emissions from factories and vehicles.

The air quality is expected to deteriorate further in the coming days and the people are advised to put out small fires and report any open burning to the Fire and Rescue Department.

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