Thursday, June 20, 2013

Malaysia In Haze

Kuala Lumpur, 24 Jun 2013


Kuala Lumpur,  21 Jun 2013

Kuala Lumpur, May 2013

What is haze?

Haze is an airborne mix of air pollution, dust, and smoke that impairs visibility and interacts with the natural environment. It can be anthropogenic or natural in origin and plays a role in weather conditions and climate change. Researchers have dedicated substantial attention to this phenomenon since the 1970s, when climate scientists first became aware of the role haze plays in meteorology and overall climate trends. Studies on this topic frequently appear in professional journals dedicated to meteorology and climate research.

This mixture can include an assortment of aerosolized pollutants, including small particulates like soot, along with gases vented from industrial manufacturing facilities. It may be brown to blue in color and can create a plume across the landscape. While not always immediately visible to the naked eye, haze can show up in imaging studies, particularly with the use of filters to polarize the landscape and make patterns in the air more visible.

Particles in the haze can block and absorb sunshine, changing the way light behaves. This can be observed at dawn and dusk, where the light may appear especially vivid or strange because of the way the haze interrupts the transmission of light. The mixture can also appear with other pollutants like smog, and may create layers of pollution that can become trapped in areas like valleys and natural depressions in the earth, along with harbors and other low-lying areas.

Haze In Malaysia

Haze has been an ongoing problem in many countries The main cause of this haze is the slash and burn practice by farmers and peat fires in Indonesia. A state of emergency was announced once in 2005 at Port Klang as the Air Pollution Index (API) was raised above the 500 level. Malaysia is working with the Indonesian authorities to help curb peat fires. Malaysia and Indonesia, together with other members of the ASEAN community, signed the ASEAN Agreement on Transboundary Haze Pollution in 2002 as a result of a 1997 haze. However, Indonesia is the only country that has not ratified the agreement. A repeat incident in 2005 and 2006 has forced Malaysia and Singapore to pressure Indonesia to ratify it.

The 2005 Malaysian haze was a week-long choking smog-like haze over Malaysia that almost brought the central part of Peninsular Malaysia to a standstill, prompted crisis talks with Indonesia and caused widespread inconvenience. The haze was at its worst on August 11, 2005. This was a comeback of the haze crisis which last hit Malaysia in September 1997.

Now, the haze in Malaysia has once again reached dangerous levels.

It has now left only 13 per cent of the country with good air to breathe while many schools in Johor have closed as Malaysians there took in the worst of it, so far.

Yesterday, four areas in the state entered the "hazardous" and "very unhealthy" scales of the Air Pollutant Index (API).

Poor visibility at the Senai International Airport also forced two flights to be diverted.

In Kuala Lumpur, this Sunday's planned 2013 Olympic Day Run for 15,000 participants at Padang Merbok has been postponed, the co-organisers McDonald's Malaysia said.

The Department of Environment (DOE) said the country was on high alert due to the rapid deterioration in air quality over the past three days. It has alerted the National Security Council to activate the National Haze Action Plan nationwide, with a "3A Warning Level" (the highest level) issued for the worst-affected areas.

The DOE has also stepped up enforcement on the emission of smoke from vehicles and factories.

Only 13 per cent of the areas in the country recorded "good" API levels yesterday, while the air quality in 78 per cent of the country has dropped to "moderate".

The DOE website showed that 7 per cent of the country had fallen into the "unhealthy" status.

The DOE has contacted its counterpart in Indonesia, urging the country to take urgent action to control the peat and forest fires in the Riau district of central Sumatra in Riau which had sparked the haze, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said.

A map issued by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre showed the movement of the thick haze from areas in Riau, with strong winds from the South-West carrying the haze to the West Coast and East Coast of Malaysia.

Within our borders, the map also showed 83 hot spots detected, with 70 found in Sarawak, six in Kelantan, two in Pahang and one spot each in Selangor, Malacca, Sabah and Terengganu,

Yesterday, Muar in Johor recorded a "hazardous" API of 383 at 11am, while at 5pm, Pasir Gudang had also fallen into the same category at 333.

The haze also hit Malacca with the state capital and Bukit Rambai recording "unhealthy" API readings of 137 and 119 respectively.

API readings between 51 to 100 are considered moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and anything above 301 is considered hazardous. The worst API reading in memory was in 1997, where a state of emergency was declared in Kuching after its API reached 839.

Yesterday, only several locations in Perak, Kedah and Perlis retained a "Good" API reading.

In Singapore, where the API showed 371 at 1pm yesterday, The Straits Times reported a senior Indonesian Minister as hitting out in response to the island nation's criticism over the haze.

"Singapore shouldn't be like children, in such a tizzy," Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Agung Laksono, who is coordinating his country's relief and response effort, said.

"It's not what Indonesians want. It's nature," he added.

How to Protect Yourself from Haze

1. Keep the haze out
2. Use air purifier indoor
3. Drink at least 2 liters of water a day
4. Stay away from alcohol & coffee
5. Boost your immunity with super foods.
6. Must-have items in your bag: face mask, eye drops, water bottle, tissue, wet wipes
7. Wash your hands & face regularly
8. See the doctors immediately after health problems