Brace for haze as API moves from ‘Good’ to ‘Moderate’

The API readings are at a ‘Moderate’ level in almost all locations in Malaysia, while one is edging towards ‘Unhealthy’

by RAHIMI YUNUS/ pic by ARIF KARTONO

AIR quality dropped across the country yesterday as worries heightened over the return of the haze season and prolonged dry spell in the next few months.

The Air Pollution Index (API) readings, which measure air quality status at any particular area based on the average concentration of air pollutants, were at a “Moderate” level in almost all locations in Malaysia, while one is edging towards “Unhealthy”.

As at 6pm yesterday, API readings at 63 out of 68 stations monitored by the Department of Environment were moderate, including all stations in Peninsular Malaysia.

The most polluted area was in Bandar Indera Mahkota, Kuantan, Pahang, at 95 points — six points away from being unhealthy.

The only five stations with “Good” readings were Tawau (23), Kapit (44), Sandakan (45), Limbang (48) and Samalaju (50).

Kota Kinabalu and Kimanis have slipped from “Good” to “Moderate” yesterday at 3pm and 6pm respectively.

According to the apims.doe.gov.my website, below 50 points indicates good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy and more than 300 is considered hazardous.

The classification noted, for instance, that an unhealthy API could worsen the health condition of high-risk people with heart and lung complications.

API readings in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Selangor were mostly above 75 led by Cheras (79) and followed by Putrajaya (78), Klang (78), Petaling Jaya (77) and Shah Alam (77).

Northern states like Perlis, Kedah and Penang recorded readings below 60 by 6pm yesterday. Eastern states like Terengganu and Kelantan registered a mix of low 60 and 70 points of the API readings.

Regionally, the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) stated on its website that dry conditions prevailed in the southern Asean region, as last updated on July 30, 2019. ASMC noted that dry weather persisted over many parts of Sumatra, Kalimantan and the Java Sea areas under the influence of a tropical depression over the South China Sea area.

Persistent hotspot clusters with smoke haze were detected in Riau, Sumatra and near Palangka Raya in Central Kalimantan.

ASMC forecasts that the tropical depression will track west-northwestward in the next few days and is expected to bring shower activities over the Mekong sub-region.

“In the southern Asean region, generally, dry conditions are forecast. The prevailing south-westerly or westerly winds over the Mekong sub-region are forecast to strengthen, and the south-easterly or south- westerly winds in the southern Asean region is expected to persist,” ASMC noted at asmc.asean.org.

A tropical depression is formed when a low-pressure area is accompanied by thunderstorms that produce a circular wind flow with maximum sustained winds below 39mph (63kph).