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Haze to linger until next month
Posted on : 09 Aug 2019  Source of News: New Sarawak Tribune Online
 

KUCHING: The hazy situation could persist at least until next month.The Department of Environment (DOE) said the current hazy conditions may take time to improve depending on the weather condition.

“If the dry season prolongs and transboundary haze from Kalimantan worsens, it will take longer time for the air condition to improve,” senior assistant director (Operations) Ahmad Saifful Salihin said when contacted by New Sarawak Tribune yesterday.

The Air Pollution Index (API) readings were at a “moderate” level in all locations in state, with Kuching edging closer towards the ‘unhealthy’ mark at 84 points, at
6pm yesterday.

API measures air quality status at any particular area based on the average concentration of air
pollutants.

According to the apims.doe.gov.my website, below 50 points indicate good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy and more than 300 is considered hazardous.

Ahmad said that the API readings were captured by monitoring stations located in various areas in Sarawak.

He added that the haze originated in Kalimantan (transboundary haze) following the wind direction.

“As for yesterday, only one hotspot was detected in Sarawak, while the hotspots count in Kalimanran was 12,” he pointed out.

As such, DOE is serious in implementing preventive measures in lowering the possibility of open fire burning at fire prone areas and hotspots due to the prolonged dry conditions.

DOE obtains its hotspot data from Asian Specialised Meteorological Centre. “DOE will identify the location then we will go for site inspection. Action will be taken against the
culprits.

“The maximum penalty for open burning is RM500,000 or five
years imprisonment or both,” he added.

He advised members of the public to stay indoors and reduce outdoor activities.

“Only go out when necessary, as the air is not fit to breathe despite it being at moderate level. Wear a respiratory mask such as the N95 mask, which can filter out airborne particles from the air you are about to inhale.

“And always stay hydrated throughout the day by increasing water intake as much as possible. This will enable the vital organ
(kidneys) flush away toxins. And practise good hygiene by washing one’s hand and face.

“Also seek advice and medical treatment from clinic or hospital if there is prolong health problem,” he said adding that the public are advised not to start any open
fires.

Meanwhile, a total of 38 open burning cases involving 73.55 acres were detected within 24 hours throughout Sarawak.

State Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) recently reported that Kampung Sekait, Sri Aman recorded the largest land mass affected by fire involving 30 acres followed by 12 acres in Lopeng, Miri.