Due to the worsening haze in southwestern Sarawak, Kuching has earned the title of the most air-polluted city in the world. This is the second time in a week that a Malaysian city has topped the list of the world’s most polluted cities, according to US-based website World’s Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index.
According to the New Straits Times, Kuala Lumpur took first place on Wednesday (Sept 11) with a 165 reading on the Air Quality Index (AQI), which is the index used by the World’s Air Pollution website.
On Monday (Sept 16), Kuala Lumpur was at fourth place in a global air quality ranking by IQAir AirVisual.
Five areas in Malaysia were in the “very unhealthy” air quality category as of 11am on Monday. They are: Johan Setia, Putrajaya, Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman.
According to the Department of Environment’s (DoE) monitoring of the Air Pollutant Index (API), Kuching recorded the highest API reading of 245, followed by Sri Aman (220) and Samarahan (216).
In Peninsular Malaysia, Johan Setia and Putrajaya both had a very unhealthy API reading of 202. A further 29 places recorded “unhealthy” readings.
API readings of 0 to 50 represent “good” air quality, while 51 to 100 is considered “moderate”, 101-200 is classified as “unhealthy”, 201-300 is “very unhealthy”, and above 300 is deemed “hazardous”.
According to the Asean Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC), dry conditions prevailed over the southern ASEAN region on Sunday. Moderate to dense smoke haze continued to emanate from persistent hotspots in the provinces of Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra, Lampung and many areas of Kalimantan, it said. The prevailing winds have blown some of the smoke haze to affect parts of peninsular Malaysia and Singapore.
However, the haze situation in Singapore gradually improved over the weekend, with a 24hr-Pollutant Standards Index (PSI) of 77 to 86 as of 11am on Monday (Sept 16).
The ASMC has forecasted that hazy conditions in the region can be expected to continue with the hotspot activities in Sumatra and Kalimantan persisting under the prevailing dry weather.