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    Environment Dept bans open burning due to haze

    (Updated )

    A nationwide ban on open burning has been imposed in efforts to address the haze problem that has plagued the country since Sept 5.

    The ban will be implemented until the southwest monsoon ends, although cremation, burning for religious purposes, and grilling/barbecue and flaring will still be allowed.

    The announcement was made by Environment Department director-general Norlin Jaafar in a statement today.

    "All parties are urged not to practice open burning or to leave their land or premises to be trespassed by irresponsible parties to cause open burning either for a specific purpose or accidentally," she said.

    Meanwhile, the haze issue has also forced the Malaysian Day celebrations planned to be held at Padang Merdeka, to be shifted to Stadium Perpaduan.

    Speaking in Kuching today, Deputy Sarawak Chief Minister Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said the decision was reached during the Malaysian Day Celebration Organising Committee meeting yesterday.

    Meanwhile, all schools closed in nine districts in Sarawak due to haze yesterday, were reopened today.

    A total of 409 schools were shut down yesterday after Air Pollution Index (API) readings in the areas went above the ‘very unhealthy’ level of 200.

    The Health Ministry urged the public to be aware of the air quality in their respective areas and to take preventative measures to reduce health problems.

    Among other things, people have been advised to avoid any physical activity outdoors to reduce exposure to the haze and to use face masks if they are required to be outside.

    The public is also encouraged to drink plenty of water and monitor the health of younger children as well as those with respiratory and heart disease, as they are more prone to be affected by the haze.

    As of 9 pm today, the air quality in Rompin, Pahang was categorised as extremely unhealthy with an API reading of 212.

    The Environment Department in a statement today said the situation in Rompin was caused by a 2.02-hectare bush fire in Kampung Gading nearby the Rompin air monitoring station.

    "The fire is being dealt with by the Fire and Rescue Department and further investigations are underway by the Environment Department," the department said.

    Meanwhile, the air quality in Johan Setia, Klang, recorded between 6 pm and 8 pm, dropped into the unhealthy category with an API reading of 199 at 9 pm.

    The API reading between 0 and 50 is categorized as good, 51 to 100 (moderate), 101 to 200 (unhealthy), 201 to 300 (very unhealthy) and 300 or above (hazardous).

    - Bernama

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