Rompin, Johan Setia air quality ‘unhealthy’ as Indonesia declares emergency

MetMalaysia states that the country is still in the Southwest monsoon phase


AIR quality is getting worse nationwide with decreasing visibility and few locations are now considered “unhealthy” as Indonesia declared emergency over forest fires.

As at 6pm yesterday, two stations recorded an “unhealthy” Air Pollution Index (API) readings, 63 “moderate” and three “good”, of 68 stations monitored by the Department of Environment (DoE).

The two most polluted areas were in Rompin, Pahang, at 104 points and Johan Setia, Selangor, at 109 points.

Nilai was edging towards “unhealthy” at 91 levels.

According to the 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.

Apart from Johan Setia, Klang, API readings in Kuala Lumpur (KL) and Selangor were mostly above 80 led by Klang (88), followed by Banting (86), Shah Alam (85), Cheras (84) and Putrajaya (84).

In the northern states of Peninsular Malaysia, both Alor Star and Seberang Perai have slipped from “good” to “moderate” at 5pm yesterday.

The only three stations with “good” readings by 6pm yesterday were in Tawau (30), Kangar (49) and Sandakan (50).

The DoE said in a statement that the weather forecast until Aug 4, 2019, by the Malaysian Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia) found that the country is still in the Southwest monsoon phase.

The situation is expected to continue until mid-September 2019.

“The DoE will continue to closely monitor the status and quality trends air every hour following the rise of hotspots in Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia that have the potential to cause haze pollution across the border to the West Coast of Peninsular Malaysia and the Sarawak states,” it said.

The department said hotspots detected in Johor and Pahang will be investigated under Section 29A of the Environmental Quality Act 1974.

Neighbouring Indonesia has declared emergency in six provinces on the island of Sumatra and the province of Kalimantan in Borneo island, Bernama reported, quoting Vietnam News Agency.

The six provinces were Riau, South Sumatra, West Kalimantan, Jambi, South Kalimantan and Central Kalimantan, where extensive peatlands are particularly prone to fires, Indonesia’s National Disaster Mitigation Agency spokesman Agus Wibowo was reported as saying.

Wibowo said the number of hot-spots in the country as of July 31 has increased, with 124 “intense” fires detected.

Authorities have mobilised 5,679 additional personnel to five of the provinces, drawn from the military, police and the regional disaster mitigation agency.

Aircraft that can run water bombing operations were also deployed.

The Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) stated on its website that persistent hotspots with smoke haze were detected in Riau, Jambi and Central Kalimantan, as last updated on July 31, 2019.

ASMC forecasts that the tropical depression will track inland over the next few days while the prevailing southwesterly or westerly winds are likely to strengthen.

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).