Haze in Damansara Perdana, early March 2014.

As many parts of the Klang Valley undergo water rationing, the haze is another reminder of our unrelenting dry weather. Blanketing much of the country, the haze has kept certain areas in perpetual greyness, with some places recording high “unhealthy” Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

But just where is all this haze coming from? Unlike last June, when the haze was attributed to slash and burn fires in Indonesia, news sources have been vague on the current haze’s source. Based on certain reports, it seems likely to be from domestic factors (such as open burnings, factory pollution and forest fires), but no specific places have been pinpointed. Another theory is that the haze has come from China, where a cold winter has lead to more fuel consumption.

So what is considered an unhealthy level of haze? Basically if the API reading falls between 100-200, it’s considered “unhealthy”. Readings from 201-300 are considered “very unhealthy” and anything above 300 is “hazardous”. If the reading exceeds 500, a state of emergency is implemented.

Earlier today, “unhealthy” areas included Nilai and Seremban (Negeri Sembilan), Banting and Port Klang (Selangor) and Putrajaya. Other states remain at the “moderate” (51-100) and “good” (0-50) levels. The Department of Environment updates the API readings almost hourly.

Meanwhile, cloud seeding has been delayed in order to prioritise the search and rescue efforts for missing aircraft MH370.

Lyn Ong