PETALING JAYA: It was back to hazy skies after a one-day respite on Saturday.
Due to the changing winds, the haze returned yesterday mostly in Selangor, Negri Sembilan and Malacca.
The Meteorological Services Department said south-easterly winds had brought the smoke from fires in Sumatra and Kalimantan.
Air Pollutant Index (API) readings fluctuated from moderate to unhealthy levels yesterday.
At 11am, unhealthy levels were recorded in Johor Baru (141), Kuantan (139), Muar (135), Kemaman (122), Larkin (116) and Malacca (110).
By 5pm, the situation deteriorated in Malacca (138) and Muar (150) but improved in Johor Baru (127), Larkin (104), Kemaman (121) and Kuantan (96).
Unhealthy levels were also recorded in Gombak (117) and Kuala Selangor (103).
Visibility was poor in Sepang (1km), Malacca (1.2km), Subang (1.5km), Kuantan (1.5km), Kuala Terengganu (2km), Kuching (2.5km) and Sri Aman (2km).
In Sabah and Sarawak, changing wind conditions and rain in central Sarawak on Saturday improved the situation.
The number of hotspots increased in Sumatra from 42 on Saturday to 157, while in Borneo it dropped from 323 to 215.
The peninsula recorded seven hotspots yesterday.
“In Peninsular Malaysia, the wind is expected to change to northeast by Sunday night (yesterday).
“Once this happens, the haze over the northern parts of the peninsula is expected to improve,” the MSD said in a statement.
It added that for the southern and central regions, the situation would depend on wind conditions and might take a longer time to improve.
In Alor Star, although the API reading in Kedah was in the acceptable range over the last few days, the number of asthmatic attacks had been higher than normal days.
“Maybe the patients had been to Penang, Sungai Petani or Langkawi where the API is higher,” said a doctor.
In Seremban, the API showed moderate levels but the state government is advising people to limit outdoor activities.
State Environment, Human Resources and Public Complaints Committee chairman Datuk Peter Lai Yit Fee said visibility seemed “quite bad” due to the high moisture content in the air.
In Kuantan, wind changes are expected to worsen the situation after the API touched unhealthy levels (100) on Saturday.
State Local Government and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Hoh Khai Mun said the index could be higher in the Gebeng Industrial estate.
In Singapore, the air quality reached “unhealthy” levels for the first time this year on Saturday when its pollutant standards index (PSI) touched 150 at 9pm.
The situation improved yesterday when the PSI slipped back to 31 at 10am.
Taxi driver Tan Min Guan, 37, said business had dropped by 20% as many Singaporeans chose to remain indoors.
“I am always busy during weekends but today I only got about 10 passengers the whole day,” he lamented.
The highest three-hour average PSI reading recorded in Singapore was in September 1997 when it hit 226.
Security guard H.S. Leong said the number of tourist arrivals at the Merlion tourist site had gone down.