Don’t blame Indonesia for our hazardous air quality, says Meteorological Department
She told The Malaysian Insider today that despite the fact that air quality in Riau, Sumatra, had reached hazardous levels in the past two months, it had nothing to do with Malaysia's present predicament.
Instead, the main cause of the hazardous air quality here, she said, was the dry weather coupled with open burning, forest burning, peat fires, emission from vehicles and smoke from industries.
"The dry season has retained haze in the air as there is no mechanism to clean the air. And every day, we keep on adding to it with our own smoke."
Che Gayah said the wind direction made it impossible to attribute the smog in most parts of the Klang Valley to the critical situation in Riau, where a state of emergency has been declared.
"We are now experiencing the northeast monsoon. So the wind is blowing in from the northeast. This means that even if Sumatra has a severe haze problem, the smog will not be blowing in our direction."
Cross-boundary haze would only occur during the southwest monsoon season.
"This is what happened in June last year," she added.
Che Gayah had previously said that the recent eruption of Mount Sinabung in Indonesia also had no effect on the haze situation in Malaysia, where several areas in the Klang Valley have recorded unhealthy air quality levels.
"There is no more eruption. It is just smoky. In fact, the wind direction shows that it is blowing the smoke from Sumatra away from us," she said this morning.
The smoke, it was reported, was now concentrated in large urban areas with high economic and industrial activities such as Kuala Lumpur, Selangor (Subang) and Penang (Seberang Perai).
The department had also announced that it would conduct cloud-seeding operations to provide some rainfall over dams in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.
Yesterday's operations, which began at 3pm and ended by 4.30pm, was carried out over Gombak, Hulu Langat, Kuala Kubu Baru, Hulu Klang and Semenyih.
The operation was declared a success after the area experienced a downpour in the evening.
"I cannot say that the heavy rain was 100% from cloud-seeding. But I believe it contributed to it."
The downpour from 4pm onwards yesterday provided a much-needed reprieve to Klang Valley residents, who have had to deal with dry taps as well.
However, the latest air pollutant index (API) showed that air quality in the Klang Valley has not improved much, with Banting recording the highest reading of 130.
Port Klang, which showed an increase in API this morning (137) compared with yesterday's readings (131), registered an improvement in the 11am readings (125).
Unhealthy air quality levels were also recorded in Nilai (109), Kuala Selangor (106), Petaling Jaya (124), Shah Alam (123) and Batu Muda, Kuala Lumpur (116).
Air quality status is monitored through 52 stations by the Department of Environment to detect changes in air quality and to detect smoke early.
In a statement yesterday, the DOE warned that action will be taken to those who continued to practise open burning. – March 4, 2014. MALAYSIAN INSIDER