Trapped air pollutants cause of haze in Malaysia

PETALING JAYA- The haze that has been hovering over Klang Valley is actually fine particles from air pollutants that are unable to disperse due to dry weather conditions, said the Natural Resources and Environ-ment Ministry.

It said in a statement yesterday that the air pollutants were released into the atmosphere from various human activities, including vehicle fumes, land development and construction activities.

"There have been no cases of open burning that could jeopardise the air quality in the Klang Valley. The current haze is a weather phenomenon and will not affect the public's health," it said.

The ministry said based on a report by the Meteorological Depart-ment, wind flow in Peninsular Malaysia over the past few days had been slow at around 10kph.

The department also reported that several areas in the Klang Valley, including Hulu Selangor, Klang, Kuala Selangor, Petaling Jaya and Sepang had not received rainfall for five consecutive days since Jan 22.

"Weather factors and Klang Valley's topography caused the fine particles to be caught in the air space and were unable to disperse quickly," it said.

The ministry also assured the public that the Department of Environment (DOE) was keeping a close eye on the air quality readings throughout the country, and had activated its plan to prevent open burning in all states.

It said DOE was also increasing its efforts to prevent peat fires, so it could ensure that no local sources were causing the worsening air quality and haze.

The Star had reported that visibility readings worsened in various parts of the country on Sunday, with Petaling Jaya and Kuala Pilah in Negri Sembilan recording visibility readings of up to 4km.

Normal visibility levels are from a range of 10km and further.

Members of the public have also been reminded not to carry out open burning because of the current dry weather and northeasterly winds and to put out any small fires besides reporting any cases of open burning.

The Fire and Rescue Department's hotline is 999 while DOE's hotline is 1-800-88-2727.