Forest fires cause ‘unhealthy’ air quality in Pahang town

PUTRAJAYA: Smoke from forest fires in Pekan caused air quality to drop to unhealthy levels at Bandar Indera Mahkota this morning, the Environment Department reported.

It said Air Pollutant Index readings throughout the country were at moderate levels, except at Bandar Indera Mahkota which recorded an API of 104.

The department said the unhealthy air quality was caused by smoke from peat forest and secondary forest fires in Kampung Pulau Manis, Pekan, which have not yet been put out completely.

Western parts of Peninsular Malaysia, and western Sarawak, experienced haze comprising of smog from neighbouring Indonesia which had drifted into Malaysia because of winds. A regional haze map issued by the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre yesterday indicated a trail of haze from forest and land fires in the Riau and Jambi areas in Sumatera, Indonesia.

The map also displays the presence of haze in western and central Kalimantan, Indonesia.

The department said action plans on open burning and haze had been activated to streamline the measures of government agencies in countering the situation.

It advised local authorities and all land owners to closely monitor areas which are prone to open burning such as dump sites, forests, peat land, estates, and agricultural and industrial land.

Explaining that a prolonged haze would negatively impact people particularly high-risk groups such as children, the elderly, pregnant women and heart patients, the department advised the public to visit the Health Ministry’s website for information on steps which could be taken to deal with the haze.