Hazy days back with vengeance

Hazy days back with vengeance

13 June 2009

published by news.asiaone.com

South East Asia —

An increase in the number of hotspots in Sumatra and local peat fires burning in Selangor have cause a deterioration of air quality in parts of Peninsula Malaysia.

Satellite pictures yesterday showed an increase in burning activity in Sumatra with as many as 98 hotspots detected on Thursday.

The number of hotspots fell to 49 yesterday but a note with a map provided by the Singapore Meteorological Services stated that the low number detected could be because of cloud cover over the region blocking the satellite from detecting the hotspots.

Selangor Fire and Rescue director Soiman Jahid said three peat fires had been detected in the state and could be the cause of the haze in the Klang Valley.

Three locations had unhealthy Air Pollutant Index readings, up from just one on Thursday.

Yesterday, the readings at 5pm for Port Klang, Cheras and Shah Alam were 136, 109 and 120 respectively.

The air quality in Shah Alam was still moderate at 95 when taken at 11am yesterday but was 120 at 5pm.

Other areas close to heading into the unhealthy air quality range (between API 101 and 200) include Kajang (100), Batu Muda (99), Petaling Jaya (93) and Putrajaya (92).

Overall, 21 areas recorded good air quality (API 0-50) while 26 areas recorded moderate air quality readings (API 51-100).

Compared to Thursday’s API readings, yesterday’s readings showed a general decline in air quality in the Klang Valley.

Meanwhile, Department of Environment director-general Rosnani Ibarahim said it was still unnecessary for residents staying in areas where the API reading showed unhealthy air quality to wear masks.

“The DOE will issue further directive if it is necessary for residents to wear face masks,” she said.

Selangor Environment Committee chairman Elizabeth Wong told a press conference in Shah Alam yesterday that the problem in Port Klang was mainly trans-boundary haze movement coupled with dust and traffic emission.

She said the state Fire and Rescue Department had identified several areas in the state to be closely monitored.

They included Kampung Pulau Kempas in Banting, Johan Setia, Jalan Kebun and peat land along the Putrajaya Link.

Wong said the areas would be monitored closely for 72 hours.

Wong also said the authorities would severely penalise anyone involved in open burning.

“We don’t care if the open burning is big or small. No one can carry out open burning, including the Agriculture Department,” she said.

Hotspots were also detected in Kalimantan.

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