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Malaysian authorities warn against outdoor activities as air quality worsens
Members of the public should avoid going outdoors if the Air Pollution Index (API) reading passes 100, the Malaysian Health Ministry said on Thursday.
The ministry's director-general Noor Hisham Abdullah warned in a statement that young children and those already facing respiratory and heart conditions were especially vulnerable to the unhealthy air conditions.
"To minimize exposure to pollutants during haze, the public is advised to avoid going outdoors if the Air Pollution Index (API) is over 100.
"If you have to be outside, limit your activities to important ones only and minimize the time you have to be outdoors. Avoid physical activity that will increase your respiratory efforts while outdoors," he said.
According to the country's air quality rating, an API reading of zero to 50 is "good," 51 to 100 "moderate," 101 to 200 "unhealthy," 201 to 300 "very unhealthy," and 301 and above is "hazardous."
As of noon, 16 locations across the country recorded "unhealthy" API readings between 102 and 155 while three schools in Klang district in Selangor state were ordered to close after recording "very unhealthy" air quality with an API of over 200.
Meanwhile, Minister of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment Yeo Bee Yin said cloud seeding in Sarawak state would be conducted as soon as possible in an effort to combat the haze.
"The government and several agencies have been prepared in Sarawak to assess whether the situation in Sarawak is suitable for cloud seeding. If suitable, we will begin as early as today," she told state news agency Bernama.
She added that Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad would be sending a letter to Indonesian President Joko Widodo to draw his attention to the haze situation.
Malaysia's Ministry of Energy, Technology, Science, Climate Change and Environment said earlier this month that the cause of the haze was due to forest fires in the region including in neighboring Indonesia.