We’re in the midst of a hot dry spell and it’s no surprise that fires in Sumatra and in the Peninsular have made the skies murky again and our air quality considerably less healthy.
The haze has returned to peninsular Malaysia with four areas recording unhealthy Air Pollutant Index levels in the Klang Valley and the worse is yet to come.
As in previous years, several hotspots in central Sumatra in Indonesia are causing the haze.
Both the Department of Environment and Indonesian authorities expect the situation to worsen with the hot and dry spell in the Riau district of Sumatra set to peak over the next two weeks.
Air quality in Klang Valley deteriorated progressively on Friday with four locales noting unhealthy API readings as of 5 p.m. local time (4 p.m. Jakarta time).
They were Port Klang (147), Kuala Selangor (129), Shah Alam (120) and Cheras (105).
Most of the 51 areas monitored by DOE also showed increases, with several places in the Klang and Kinta valleys hovering at the edge of unhealthy API readings of more than 100.
The DOE classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as Good, 51-100 (Moderate), 101-200 (Unhealthy), 201-300 (Very Unhealthy) and more than 301 as Hazardous.
“With the relatively dry weather in several northern and east coast states in the peninsula, the haze is expected to continue over the next few days,” said the DOE in a statement.
Peat fires are notoriously difficult to put out and while there may be some respite when it rains, it doesn’t look so good for the next couple of weeks.
“Smoke is blowing from forest fires in Sumatra, as shown in this image taken by NASA’s Terra satellite on June 14, 2012 at 03:45 UTC (June 13, 2012, 11:45pm ETC, U.S.)…….Rokan Hilir has the most “hotspots” (fires) in Riau. The fires are burning peat and forestland and have created smoke and haze….33 fires are burning in ten 10 districts in the regency.”
For the latest Air Pollution Indices, visit the DOE’s website. Currently in the Klang Valley it’s still at Moderate (50-100) to Unhealthy (100-200 ) in places. Might be time to dig up those N95 masks and pray that the situation won’t be as bad as previous years when the API hit 400.
Here’s an old MMR post on How to Use the correct mask (yup, the handkerchief tied around your nose isn’t going to do much good), and from another old post, here are recommended steps to take to protect yourself:
1. Try to avoid or reduce any outdoor activities. The public, especially, parents with children are advised to keep them indoors as much as possible. Those who are sick and the elderly are also advised to do the same.
2. Wear protective masks if the haze reaches dangerous levels, especially motorcyclists, outdoor workers and those in the high-risk group.
3. As advised by the Government recently, do not practice open burning so as to prevent the haze situation from becoming worse.
4. Those who are asthmatic, having cough, flu, eye irritation are advised to consult their family physicians for advice.
5. Smokers are advised to stop smoking in order not to increase the risks to their health.