Unrelenting haze makes 40 spots in Malaysia unhealthy

Justin Ong
Putrajaya recorded an API reading of 175 at 8am today while Kuala Lumpur was at 154. — Picture by Shafwan Zaidon

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Hazy conditions in the country worsened today as smoke billowing from Indonesian fires surpassed levels not seen since 2015.

According to the Department of Environment's Air Pollutant Index (API) this morning, 40 areas across the country were firmly in the “unhealthy” band while Johan Setia in Selangor descended back into “very unhealthy” levels.

In the central region of the peninsula, the Greater Klang Valley continues to be enveloped in a thick haze that left many areas with air quality bordering on “very unhealthy” levels.

Putrajaya recorded an API reading of 175 at 8am today while Kuala Lumpur was at 154.

In Selangor, areas further away from Johan Setia did not have much respite as API readings were 186 in Kuala Selangor, 171 in Shah Alam, and 166 in Petaling Jaya.

Perak also continued to suffer from hazy conditions, with “unhealthy” readings across all areas of the state except Tanjong Malim with an API of 75. The worst in the Silver State was Seri Manjong (172).

Further south, Nilai in Negri Sembilan registered an API of 190 this morning, putting it on the cusp of becoming very unhealthy. However, the air pollution eased towards Melaka where the worst API registered was 138 in Bukit Rambai.

Most areas in Johor were marginally into the “unhealthy” except Segamat (154) and Larkin (125).

In the north of the peninsula, most areas were either “moderate” or just inside the “unhealthy” band.

Over in East Malaysia, air quality improved significantly overnight, leaving just Sri Aman in Sarawak with unhealthy (134) air.

According to reports today, Indonesia’s Riau is now experiencing worse air pollution than experienced in 2015 as fires continued to rage there and in surrounding provinces.

Poor visibility there has also forced airlines to cancel or divert flights to airports in the area.

Indonesia continues to reject neighbouring countries’ offers to help it put out the fires within its borders, ignoring the 2002 Asean Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution that created a framework expressly to address what has become an annual crisis.

The republic’s media pleaded with Jakarta yesterday to accept aid from Malaysia and Singapore to fight the fires, stressing that Indonesia needed “all the help we can get. Now.”

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