Air in many parts of Malaysia still ‘unhealthy’ as Kuching’s API soars to 273


Many parts of Malaysia seemed to have improved air on Thursday (Sept 19) from the day before, but not all were so lucky.

As of 10am, the air pollution index (API) in Johan Setia was 167, a sharp drop from 261 a day earlier.

The air in Balik Pulau, Pulau Pinang remained in the “very unhealthy” range with a reading of 204, and in Sarawak’s Kuching and Samarahan, the readings were 273 and 229 respectively.

In total, there were 38 areas with “unhealthy” air, and seven with “very unhealthy” air.

According to The Star, all schools in Selangor, Penang, Putrajaya and Kuala Lumpur were ordered closed on Thursday and Friday.

The Malaysian Meteorology Department said earlier that the haze is expected to continue until next week.

Yesterday, 19 flights from places like Singapore and Taipei to Penang were cancelled due to low visibility, as were all flights at Ipoh’s Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Bernama reported.

Carriers like AirAsia, Malindo Air and Scoot were affected.

Singapore’s PM2.5 levels fall

Singapore continued to wake up to “unhealthy” air quality on Thursday morning, although the PM2.5 concentration level fell to a “normal” band.

At 10am, the 24 hour-pollutant standards index (PSI) ranged between 117 to 136 while 1-hour PM2.5 readings ranged from 15 to 25. This is an improvement from Wednesday morning, when the PM2.5 concentration ranged from 89 to 119, and was classified “Band II, Elevated”.

PM2.5 is the main air pollutant during the haze season, and NEA recommends checking its concentration level for current air quality, especially before immediate activities like jogging.

On Wednesday evening, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said that a total of 238 hotspots were detected in Sumatra, mostly in the southern provinces of Riau, Jambi and South Sumatra.

Moderate to dense smoke haze continued to emanate from hotspots in central and southern Sumatra, and some smoke haze was blown by the prevailing winds to affect Singapore and parts of Peninsular Malaysia.

The weather over Sumatra is still forecast to remain dry and the haze situation there is expected to persist, NEA said.

As prevailing winds are forecast to blow from the southeast or south, Singapore may continue to experience hazy conditions.

It added that 1-hr PM2.5 concentration readings are expected to range between Band I (Normal) and Band II (Elevated) in the next 24 hours, and the 24-hr PSI is forecast to be in the high end of the Moderate range and the low end of Unhealthy range. NEA also warned that depending on wind conditions, the PSI in Singapore may enter the mid-section of the “unhealthy range”.

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