Haze chokes Miri, API readings remain hazardous

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — Air quality remained at unhealthy levels in two areas in Sarawak, with air pollutant index (API) readings in Miri reaching under the hazardous category.

According to the latest API reading as of noon today, readings at the SK Kuala Baram 2, reached 324 (hazardous), while the Industrial Training Institute in the northwest of Miri, bordering Brunei, is at 296 (very unhealthy).

Other areas such as Sri Aman and Sibu reads at 102 and 171 API readings respectively, which puts them at an unhealthy level, while Miri town recorded a near unhealthy reading of 97.

The highest API readings in the peninsula is Johan Setia in Selangor which records at a mild 86, down from its average unhealthy readings yesterday. 

Malaysia’s API has five categories of air quality. Hazardous levels are readings above 300 while 201-300 is considered very unhealthy; 101-200 is unhealthy; 51-100 is moderate and everything below 50 is good.

Southeasterly winds have been blowing thick smoke from forest fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan Indonesia towards Malaysia both in the Malay peninsula and in Borneo.

Last Thursday, Meteorological Department deputy director-general of operations Muhammad Helmi Abdullah said haze levels in the country are estimated to clear up after the middle of next month.

The calculations were made based on the wind direction’s changes and frequent rainfall, which are expected in the third week of September and into October during the southwest monsoon shift.

Helmi said the haze will remain present as long as the southwest monsoon winds keep on blowing and the forest fire hotspots in Kalimantan and Sumatra remained.

He advised the public to avoid open burning activities and to reduce outdoor activities for the time being.

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