Haze for Days: Smog and haze is back on peninsular Malaysia due to Sumatran forest fires

Batten down the hatches, and grab your N95 face mask, Malaysia is bracing itself for another bought of haze and smog. Winds carrying smoke from Indonesian forest fires are to blame, according to Malaysia’s Meteorological Department (MetMalaysia), with already some parts of the country being affected by haze caused by fires in Riau.

Already Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and Penang are reporting haze in their respective states.

Speaking to The Star, MetMalaysia’s director general, Jailan Simon explained: “The haze is caused by a moderate amount of smog moving from hotspots in the central and southern parts of Sumatra due to the Southwest Monsoon winds.”

“As such, a stable atmospheric condition and dry weather is expected to continue. Based on wind patterns, the haze in Peninsular Malaysia is forecasted to continue as long as there are hotspots in Sumatra,” he told the daily.

Raging forest fired in Riau have caused a thick smog to cover the state’s capital city, Pekanbaru.

While MetMalaysia continues to monitor the situation, Jailan told the country to expect haze as long as the fires continue burning in Sumatra. Residents are advised to not contribute to the matter by practicing any open burning in the spate of hot and dry weather.

As of July 31, there have been five hotspots for haze isolated in peninsular Malaysia, with 21 reported in Sumatra, and 38 in Kalimantan. Four were in Pahang, and one was in Johor.

Johan Setia, near Port Klang saw levels go to 110, while Rompin, Pahang, on the country’s east coast, saw the Air Pollution Index go about 100, both categorized as “unhealthy.”

The Cheras suburb of Kuala Lumpur is hitting 85, as is Putrajaya.

Those in the country are advised to limit their outdoor activities, and wear three-ply face masks. Smoking under these circumstances is not advisable, and residents are advised to reset their air conditioning units to ensure that they are in re-circulation mode, so that the air stays clean.

As always, drink a bunch of water, kids.

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