KUALA LUMPUR ― The government reiterated today that an emergency will be declared if pollution caused by the haze forces air pollutant index (API) reading exceeds 500.

The Ministry of Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC) disclosed this in its National Haze Action Plan yesterday.

Raging forest fires across Indonesia are thought to be responsible for the current transboundary haze that has also engulfed Singapore and Brunei.

Warnings will be issued if an area’s API reading enters the very unhealthy range. All kindergartens and nurseries will be closed immediately, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) will be activated for round-the-clock monitoring, and all land activities will be halted. Cloud seeding activities to continue.

In the 301-400 band, the public will be directed to remain indoors and to protect themselves with facial masks when going outside. All gas-emitting activities will be restricted including industries. Cloud seeding continues.

Once the API exceeds 500, Nadma will advise the prime ministers office to declare an environmental emergency. All non-essential work and activities are to be halted by law. –MALAY MAIL

Haze emergency to be declared when API exceeds 500

PUTRAJAYA: A state of haze emergency will be declared when the air pollutant index (API) exceeds 500, the National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) said today, as Sri Aman, Sarawak, hit the “hazardous” mark of 389 at 6pm.

It said such a situation had been declared in Kuching, Sarawak, on Sept 19, 1997, when the API reading was 650; on Aug 1, 2005 in Kuala Selangor and Port Klang, Selangor, when the API was 231; and on June 3, 2013 in Muar and Ledang in Johor, where the API exceeded 500.

The agency, which is monitoring the haze situation in the country, said cloud seeding will be carried out in Sarawak on or after Thursday, subject to weather and cloud conditions.

Areas with “very unhealthy” air quality this afternoon included Port Dickson in Negeri Sembilan (207), Kuching in Sarawak (216) and Johan Setia in Klang, Selangor (232).

An API reading of between zero to 50 indicates good air quality, 51-100 moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and 300 and above hazardous.

A total of 531 schools, involving 363,991 students, were closed today, with 145 of the schools in Selangor, 298 in Sarawak, 63 in Negeri Sembilan and 25 in Putrajaya.

Nadma advised the public, especially those living in areas with unhealthy air, to reduce their outdoor activities.

For those driving in areas with an API of more than 300, like Sri Aman, it said they should switch on the headlamps of their vehicles. – BERNAMA