UPM says own haze reading just for research, not alternative to DoE’s API

Soo Wern Jun
A man passes by the Prime Minister’s Office, which is shrouded in haze, in Putrajaya September 23, 2019. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 — Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has clarified today that it is not issuing its own Air Pollution Index (API) readings as a replacement of the Department of Environment’s (DoE) official ones. 

In a statement, the university’s corporate strategy and communications director Prof Azmawani Abd Rahman said that the six tools used by UPM to measure API readings were merely used by its Environment and Engineering faculties for academic and research purposes.

“In justifying the postponement of classes, UPM still refers to the API readings by the DoE on its website, as a guide for haze action plans.

“In addition, UPM refers to the observational data according to the distribution trend as predictive analyses,” said Azmawani.

She pointed out that the API reading of 350 which was circulated yesterday on social media does not translate to the current air pollution status.

“The value circulated of PM2.5 (ug/m3) measured using air quality monitoring sensors was done to research for a suitable haze research tool at UPM.

“This system is currently in use to see the PM2.5 concentration pattern during haze in UPM and its relation with the API.

“PM2.5 refers to particulate matter suspended in a diameter atmosphere less than 2.5 micrometres produced by combustion of fossil fuels and biomass,” explained Azmawani.

She also called for all parties to stop circulating the research data to prevent panic among the public, and refer only to the DoE website for API readings. 

This comes as Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail explained earlier today that the API readings issued by the DoE are averages for 24 hours and have no direct correlation with the visibility range.

The DoE also advised members of the public yesterday to refer to the official reading of the API issued by the department only to avoid confusion.

It said that the API reading channelled by DoE via the Air Pollutant Index Malaysia System is the official national API reading and the data had been verified before being displayed to the public.

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