Brunei haze worsens, visibility drops

The Meteorological Department says that dry weather conditions, which have exacerbated the haze, are normal during the first half of the southwest monsoon season. The public has been advised to minimise outdoor activities and refrain from lighting fires outdoors as it could worsen the country's air quality. More information about air quality can be obtained at JASTRe's 144 hotline or by calling 2241262 (extension 405) during office hours.

BRUNEI - Air quality in Brunei took a turn for the worse yesterday as the Pollutant Standard Index (PSI) soared overnight to nearly 100 in most of the country.

The Department of Environment, Parks and Recreation (JASTRe) said in a statement the PSI readings recorded at monitoring stations across the Sultanate were "relatively higher than normal". However, air pollution levels were still considered "moderate" as the PSI readings were below 100.

It is anticipated that Brunei will continue to experience hazy conditions for the next few days if fires continue to burn unabated in neighbouring Kalimantan and Sarawak.

Belait recorded the highest PSI reading of 98, followed by Temburong (94) and Tutong (92). Meanwhile, Brunei-Muara saw a moderate PSI reading of 65 at press time yesterday.

The haze in Brunei is being blamed on smoke from fires in 231 hotspots seen in satellite imagery in central and west Borneo.

A PSI reading below 50 is considered "good", while a PSI reading of between 51 to 100 is considered "moderate". A PSI reading of between 101 and 200 is considered "unhealthy", while a PSI reading of 201 is considered "very unhealthy". A PSE reading over 300 is "hazardous".

When PSI readings are moderate, the public may experience minor health effects such as coughing, eye irritation and a running nose. The Ministry of Health has advised children with asthma or lung or heart disease to minimise the amount of time they spend on physical activity outdoors until air pollution levels in Brunei improve.

Meanwhile, horizontal visibility at Brunei International Airport (BIA) dropped from more than 10km on Friday to 3km yesterday.

The Metrological Department said the prolonged dry spell in the country the BIA Meteorological Station has recorded no rainfall since last Saturday has contributed to the haze.

The department further stated that the dry conditions in the country are normal during the first half of the southwest monsoon season, which affects parts of Southeast Asia.

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