Haze situation in Malaysia improves slightly; Sarawak is worst hit

Malaysia's Petronas Towers building and shrouded by haze in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sept 15, 2015.
Malaysia's Petronas Towers building and shrouded by haze in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on Sept 15, 2015.PHOTO: EPA

KUALA LUMPUR - The haze situation in Malaysia improved slightly on Wednesday (Sept 16) with 12 areas recording unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings, compared to 18 areas last night.

A total of 31 areas had moderate readings as at 3pm, according to the Malaysian environment website.

Sarawak was the worst hit state. The API reading at 3pm in Sri Aman was 157, 150 in Samarahan, 151 in Kuching, 139 in Sarikei and 131 in Sibu.

Other places with unhealthy API are Paka (105), Tawau (113), Kapit (120) and Malacca (109).

There were nine areas with good air quality, including Langkawi and Alor Setar in Kedah and Tanah Merah in Kelantan .

Cloud seeding operations by the Atmospheric Science and Cloud Seeding Division of the Malaysian Meteorological Department which began on Tuesday would continue on Wednesday, focusing on northern Johor, Negeri Sembilan, Malacca, Klang Valley and Kuching, Bernama news agency reported.

Two Royal Malaysian Air Force Hercules C130 aircraft based in Subang and Kuching are being used for the purpose.

Air quality with API readings of 0-50 is categorised as good, 51-100 (moderate), 101-200 (unhealthy), 201-300 (very unhealthy) and 301 and above (hazardous).


Several outdoor events were postponed to a later date in light of the conditions, such as AIA's Touching Lives Charity Bazaar, The Star Online reported. The Subang Jaya Municipal Council also postponed a corporate social responsibility tree planting activity scheduled for Saturday.

After parents expressed their concerns regarding schools still operating despite the haze, the Education Ministry made a last-minute decision on Tuesday to order schools in Selangor, Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Negeri Sembilan to close for at least two days.

However, life goes on for working Malaysians, who have to brave the conditions and go to work as usual, according to The Star Online.

Human resource and business planning manager Seow Choon Hui, 25, who takes the train to work at Kuala Lumpur Sentral, planned to drive if the haze worsened.

"There was a day I was forced to take the train and it was quite bad. My eyes were tearing the whole day," Seow was quoted as saying.

However, he admitted that he was not using a mask yet as the situation was not as bad as a few years ago.

University tutor Evelyn Toh, 24, will travel with her friends to Sarawak this week and she is concerned that the haze may affect their plans for outdoor activities.

"The API was between 150 and 200 in Kuching these few days. I actually went out to buy N95 masks for our trip," said Toh, who was looking forward to activities such as kayaking, white water rafting, and caving.

"We will likely cut down on some of the activities depending on the haze. But I still plan on having fun while wearing my N95 mask," she added.