Haze in Damansara Perdana, early March 2014.

As of 8am this morning, 11 areas of Malaysia have fallen into the Air Pollution Index (API) category of “unhealthy” levels of haze, according to the Department of Environment.

The readings, updated daily, show that Selangor has five areas in the “unhealthy” category: Banting, Kuala Selangor, Pelabuhan Klang, PJ and Shah Alam. In these areas, the readings range from 101 to 155. Batu Muda in the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur has also recorded an “unhealthy” level of 112 and Putrajaya is at 124.

API levels record the pollutants in the air. Any reading between 101 to 200 is considered “unhealthy” while readings over 300 are “very unhealthy”. The main pollutant being measured is PM10. Recommended measures to limit the impact of the haze include staying indoors and drinking water to stay hydrated.

The Malay Mail Online published an article this morning attributing the source of the haze to forest fires covering more than 314 hectares of land in five different parts of Selangor. This shed some light on the previously vague source of “domestic factors” such as open burning and factory pollution.

The cause of the forest fires is still unknown. However, according to the Department of Environment, the dry weather is said to be adding to the haze as dust remains suspended in the air. There is currently a ban on open burning in Selangor, with exceptions for religious ceremonies, cremation and barbecues.

Ling Low