Weatherman: Haze will gradually reduce with proper dispersal

PETALING JAYA - Klang Valley residents can expect hazy conditions to improve in the coming days after waking up to the choking smog of late.

The worsening haze conditions over the past few days is due to the weakening of winds, said Malaysian Meteorological Department spokesman Dr Mohd Hisham Mohd Anip.

"Therefore, the haze particles are not dispersed properly. We expect tomorrow (Friday) and the coming days, the wind will settle again and the haze will gradually reduce," said Dr Mohd Hisham.

Apart from weakening wind condition, he said peat, bush and open fires were also to be blamed for the worsening haze.

He said more rain was expected soon, especially during the inter-monsoon season due in mid or end of March.

An Andalas Fire Station spokesman said peat fire and agriculture land burning in Johan Setia Klang and along the Kesas Highway had contributed to the bad air quality.

A Meteorological Department officer said satellite imagery showed there were as many as 82 hotspots in Peninsular Malaysia and that most of the fires happened in Pahang and Johor.

Wind blowing from northeast might have also contributed to the poor air quality in the Klang Valley.

As at 5pm yesterday, Port Klang charted a very unhealthy reading of 233.

Twelve other areas in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Perak and the Federal Territory also recorded unhealthy API readings since noon.

An API reading between 0 and 50 is considered good; 51 to 100, moderate; 101 to 200, unhealthy; 201 to 300, very unhealthy; and 301 and above, hazardous.

In Klang, residents complained to The Star, wanting the relevant authority to take action to reduce the haze situation.

Prashaandra Ramakrishnan, from Bandar Puteri, said in an e-mail: "Visibility here is really bad and even in the house, I can see smoky air circulating."

Another resident from the same housing area, Leong Choi Foong, 26, said it was suffocating during the night, especially when it was time to sleep.

"Even after shutting the windows and closing all gaps between doors, smoky air is prevalent in the room," she said.

In Seremban, state Department of Environment (DOE) deputy director Wan Aminuddin Wan Kamaruddin said it had advised developers to spray water on unpaved roads in their project sites to reduce dust from getting into the atmosphere.

In June last year, schools in Port Dickson were closed for two days after the API reading breached the 300 mark.

Checks at several pharmacies yesterday showed that the sale of masks had increased. Schools were also encouraging students to wear masks.

In Johor Baru, state DOE director Mokhtar Abdul Majid warned those found guilty of conducting open burning activities would be immediately brought to court.

Mokhtar said that if found guilty, those involved could be fined up to RM500,000 for the offence.

In a statement, the National Security Council said the DOE had activated an action plan to prevent open burning in all states, with the act now banned in Negri Sembilan, Malacca, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.