Air Pollutant Index in Penang worsens

Skies over Malaysian west coast were gloomy and visibility was described as poor by the Malaysian Meteorological Department.

Peat and forest fires in Riau, the central Sumatran district of Indonesia, has made the air quality going from bad to worst in the last few days. With dry weather, which is forecasted for the next week, air quality is expected to deteriorate even further.

The Star/ANN reported both the Malaysian department of environment (DOE) and Indonesian authorities expected the situation to worsen with the hot and dry spell in the Riau district of Sumatra set to peak over the next two weeks.

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.

In Penang, the Air Pollutant Index (API) on June 18 reached 101 (PM10) at 11am.

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.

In a media statement released on June 16, DOE requested public not to do any open burning and they have also started their action plan to curb open burning and peat fires as well as step up enforcement on exhaust fumes from motor vehicles and factories.

Malaysian health department also issued an advisory on Friday for affected members of the public to reduce their outdoor activities.