Air quality plummets as API rises

Hopes of clearing the haze in Miri proves to be a false dawn as peat fires continue to burn

Volunteers from Naim, a private company, helping out at Sector 2 yesterday.

MIRI: The air quality at the Industrial Training Institute (ILP) Miri and SK Kuala Baram 2 here returned to unhealthy levels yesterday, with the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings at the two stations increasing steadily since Friday night.

The API reading at ILP Miri at 5pm yesterday stood at 222 – a significant increase from a moderate reading of only 99 recorded at 9pm Friday.

Similarly, the API reading at SK Kuala Baram 2 at 5pm yesterday went up to 119 from 64 at 9pm Friday.

API readings of between 0 and 50 are categorised as good, between 51 and 100 (moderate), between 101 and 200 (unhealthy), between 201 and 300 (very unhealthy) and over 301 (hazardous).

Another station, Miri, recorded a moderate API reading of 72.

Fire and Rescue Department (Bomba) Miri chief Law Poh Kiong in a statement yesterday said the increase in API reading was due to smoke emanating at two sectors.

“We have managed to reduce the amount of smoke emanating from Sector 1 and Sector 2 by 80 per cent, except at Lot 4042 where smoke is still active,” he said.

He added that Bomba had also detected two spots in Sector 1 (near Hamidah Yakub Welfare Complex and near a Naim nursery) which are still actively emanating smoke.

The air quality especially at the two stations – ILP Miri and SK Kuala Baram 2 – had been classified as hazardous and very unhealthy respectively since last week, prompting the Sarawak government to request a Bombardier CL-415 aircraft from the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) to carry out water bombing here.

The water-bombing operation proved effective in dousing the forest and peat fires in Kuala Baram, with the API reading on Aug 16 dropping drastically from ‘hazardous’ to ‘moderate’.

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