Malaysia — The visibility in several areas of Peninsular Malaysia has deteriorated with Subang in Selangor recording the lowest level in the country at 2km following an increase in the number of hotspots in the northern Asean region.
According to the Asean haze online website, managed by the Environment Division of the Asean secretariat: “With prevailing dry conditions over the northern Asean region, scattered hotspots continue to be detected in Thailand, Myanmar and Lao PDR.
“In particular, clusters of hotspots were detected in northern Vietnam and Cambodia. Isolated hotspots were also detected in Sumatra, Borneo and Peninsular Malaysia due to the onset of the dry phase of the northeast monsoon.
The Air Pollutant Index (API) reading available on the Department of Environment website showed Port Klang with the highest API level of 97 [PM10 (fine particulate matter)] just four points away from hitting the unhealthy level of 101.
Banting in Selangor and Prai in Penang both had the second-highest reading in the country at 74.
A spokesman at the Malaysian Meteorological Department said the weather station in Subang recorded the lowest visibility level in the country at 2km followed by 5km at Alor Star and Cameron Highlands.
Visibility at Kuching was reduced to 6km, while the stations at Petaling Jaya, Butterworth and Prai all recorded visibility of 7km. The visibility reading for the rest of the country was above 9km, he said.
No hotspots were recorded in Peninsular and East Malaysia today, but 11 spots were detected in Sumatra and nine in Kalimantan as at 4.30pm today, he said.
When contacted, Selangor state executive councillor in charge of environment Elizabeth Wong attributed the haze to the rise in hotspots in several neighbouring countries following an onset of the dry season.
She advised the public to refrain from open burning activities, especially the burning of rubbish to reduce the impact of the regional haze which has affected the air quality in Selangor.
She said the state is monitoring the situation closely and had on Thursday detected a site in Dengkil where open burning for land cultivation was being carried out near the Orang Asli settlement in Bukit Baja.
“The Fire and Rescue Department has helped to put out the fire and we will send in our officers to monitor the area,” she said, adding that the village head at the settlement denied that his villagers were the ones who started the fire.
“Our officers on the ground will also be stepping up surveillance in other areas in the state,” Wong said.