Malaysians lament on social media as air quality deteriorates due to haze

PETALING JAYA (THE STAR/ASIA NEWS NETWORK, AFP) – Malaysians have taken to social media to lament about how the haze is affecting them as air quality continued to worsen due to transboundary haze blanketing parts of Peninsular Malaysia and Sarawak in Borneo island.

Haze regularly affects parts of South-east Asia during the dry season, when burning is used to clear Indonesian land for oil palm and paper plantations and other crops, sparking ire from regional neighbours.

In recent weeks, Indonesia has sent in thousands of security personnel to douse fires after declaring an emergency in six provinces on the islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

Twitter user M (@mysafeground) tweeted that he had developed skin rashes, a sore throat and runny nose due to the haze.

“And the fact that I cannot run outside, it’s annoying,” he said.

QNH (@nishahaquee) who lives in Selangor tweeted: “I’ve been sick for three days now with never endings (of) puking, dizziness and breathing difficulty. It’s so upsetting I can barely see the clear sky from here (sic).”

mashie (@masalmyfsh) noted that her children’s eyes were itchy and they were coughing as well.

“I feel like (I’m) walking in the dust! Ughhh,” she tweeted.

On Facebook, Mr Franco Kailsan pointed out the haze in Petaling Jaya was bad.

“My nose is itchy. I feel like sneezing but can’t sneeze.”

The air pollution index (API) readings from API Malaysia website showed 21 areas in eight states reached unhealthy levels as of 10am on Wednesday (Sept 11), with Rompin district in Pahang recording a reading of 227, a “very unhealthy” level.

API readings in Sarawak’s Kuching, Sri Aman and Samarahan are still in the unhealthy range, as well as numerous locations in Melaka, Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.

An API reading of between 0 and 50 is good; 51 to 100 moderate; 101 to 200 unhealthy; 201 to 300 very unhealthy; and 301 and above is deemed hazardous.

South-east Asia has suffered for years from annual bouts of smoke caused by slash-and-burn practices in Indonesia, raising worries about health and the impact on tourism. Indonesia’s neighbours have repeatedly complained and promised to help end the problem, but it persists.

Indonesia last week said it had detected haze crossing over from Kalimantan in Borneo to the Malaysian side on the island.

But on Tuesday, its climate agency disputed findings by Malaysia and Singapore that the countries were also seeing smog from fires on Sumatra island.

Malaysia has also offered help to Indonesia to put out its raging fires in Kalimantan and Sumatra in order to ease the severe haze in the region, but Dr Agus Wibowo, acting spokesman for Indonesia’s national disaster mitigation agency BNPB, said Indonesia did not need foreign assistance yet to deal with the matter, and that it was capable of handling it.

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