Worst of the haze may be over

PETALING JAYA - Air quality in most parts of Malaysia saw a big improvement, with the weather authority predicting that the worst of the haze may finally be over.

The number of areas with unhealthy air fell from 34 on Tuesday to 11 as at 5pm yesterday.

Klang Valley residents enjoyed clear skies for the first time in more than a week as all air pollutant index (API) readings in Putrajaya, Kuala Lumpur and Selangor fell from unhealthy levels to moderate.

Kuala Selangor had the best air quality with an API of 69, followed by Batu Muda in Kuala Lumpur (73), Putrajaya (76), Cheras (81), Petaling Jaya (81), Banting (83), Port Klang (90) and Shah Alam (92).

An API reading of between 100-200 indicates an unhealthy air quality, 201-300 is very unhealthy while anything above 300 is hazardous.

An API of below 50 denotes good air quality while a reading of between 51 and 100 is considered moderate.

In a statement, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said it expected a reduction in the haze with the onset of the inter-monsoon season that will last until early November.

"During this period, there will be more rain nationwide, especially in the west coast of peninsular Malaysia and western Sabah, and the wind direction will also change," the ministry said.

Despite the overall improvement, several states still had unhealthy air: Sarawak and Malacca, as well as parts of Terengganu, Sabah and Pahang.

Smog from land and forest fires in central and south Sumatra as well as west, central and east Kalimantan caused the thick haze blanketing much of Malaysia for the past two weeks.

The ministry in its statement said cloud seeding by the Meteorological Department that began on Tuesday would continue until today to induce rain in south Perak, west Pahang, the Klang Valley and Negri Sembilan.

"We have so far managed to induce rain at the Pahang-Selangor border, south Perak and several parts of the Klang Valley."