KUCHING, Sept 6 ― The unhealthy air quality affecting Kuching, Serian and Sri Aman since September 1 is due to the open burning activities in a neighbouring country, said Dr Hazland Abang Hipni.

Without naming the country, Sarawak’s Deputy Minister of Energy and Environmental Sustainability said based on the Singapore-based Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), a total of 1,059 hotspots were detected in the nearby region around the period.

“This has caused Sri Aman to record unhealthy air pollutant index (API) readings of between 100 and 155, while Kuching and Serian started recording unhealthy air API readings starting September 4,” he said in a press statement today.

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In view of this, Dr Hazland urged all parties to not conduct open burning and the public is advised to take precautionary measures such as drinking sufficient water and reducing outdoor activities.

“Those conducting outdoor activities, particularly the high-risk group are advised to wear a face mask,” he said.

Dr Hazland said the Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) has activated the standard operating procedure (SOP) as an internal control to ensure that there is no open burning that contributes to the haze in Sarawak.

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He added that the SOP included active patrols and detection of hotspot areas together with other agencies such as the Department of Environment Sarawak, the implementation of open-burning ban awareness programmes, not issuing any open burning permits and enforcing open burning bans to all project developers. ― Borneo Post