Malaysians advised to wear masks, avoid outdoors amid haze
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Malaysians advised to wear masks, avoid outdoors amid haze

SEVERAL key areas of Malaysia have been blanketed by haze with the deteriorating air quality sparked by open burning and peat fires in the country.

The smog has engulfed most areas in the highly populated Klang Valley surrounding its capital in Kuala Lumpur, and is said to be caused by the hot weather from the onset of the El Niño phenomenon.

The latest emergence of haze has prompted Prime Minister Najib Razak to warn the public via Twitter to exercise caution and refrain from outdoor activities.

“I notice that the haze has returned in several areas. I hope everybody will be careful, especially those who work or have to be outdoors. Wear masks and such.

“Outdoor physical activities, especially for the elderly and children, should be reduced in areas with bad haze,” he said on the microblogging site, as reported by The New Straits Times.

Unhealthy air quality readings have been reported this morning in Port Klang, Selangor in the peninsula and Miri, in the Borneo state of Sarawak, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) at 105 and 146 respectively, according to the Department of Environment.

Yesterday, Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said the haze in the Klang Valley was caused by fires in the peatland forests in Kuala Langat and Sepang.

“The hot and dry weather also caused air pollutants in the air and worsened the haze situation today and yesterday,” it said in a statement.

However, as Indonesia’s monsoon season is only predicted to come in the middle of May, the haze was not the result of trans-boundary smoke from peat fires in the neighboring country, said the Ministry.

“The current hot weather and an increase in nitrogen oxides (NOx) pollutants and Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) have contributed to an increase in the API readings.

As at Wednesday, the areas in Klang and Kuala Selangor had not seen rain for eight days in a row.

The public were also reminded to refrain from open burning, which is one of the major sources of the ongoing haze.