Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Ministry defends API data, says meet global standards

BY DIYANA IBRAHIM



Malaysia has yet to measure its air pollutant index (API) based on finer particulate matter like Singapore does due to the bigger size of the country, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said today, following  concerns that the API readings may not reflect a true picture of the air quality.
Deputy Minister Datuk Hamim Samuri said the island state was a much smaller land mass, making it easier for them to implement a system that could capture particulates of 2.5 microns (PM2.5) compared with Malaysia, which needed a longer time.
"The honest answer is simple. Singapore is a small country, and does not need many machines.
"We have the peninsula, Sabah and Sarawak," he told a press conference on the smoke situation today.
He said, however, this did not mean that the ministry was not aware of the need to do so, adding that the proposal to use the PM2.5 instead of the 10 microns or PM10 has been outlined in the 11th Malaysia Plan.
Hamim said for now, Malaysia had 12 stations to capture the PM2.5 data throughout the country, and was expected to complete full installation of the system by 2017.
He also said that the difference in API data should not be made an issue as the current Malaysian readings were in accordance with international standards under the United States Environmental Protection Agency (Usepa).
According to Hamim, Usepa made the study by the World Health Organisation to set its levels, and  this was the reason the API data in Malaysia was pegged to  health standards.
"For Malaysia, our API is more sensitive to the health effects while Singapore's is more targeted towards outside activities, so if their API reading is 120 or 150, they would possibly tell their people not to participate in outdoor activities, but ours is pegged to health, that is why we use the international protocol," Hamim added.
Recently, as the smoke situation worsened, PKR's Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen urged Putrajaya to start using measurements that could capture particulates of PM2.5 as was done in most countries, including Singapore and Indonesia.
He said the PM2.5 data was even available in Department of Environment (DoE) stations here but failure to use it resulted in overall and substantially lower measurements in Malaysia, creating a more positive and "illusionary picture" of the nation's air quality.
Malaysians have also expressed scepticism over the API readings provided by DoE.
Despite the burning smell and grey smoggy skies, the readings have registered only "unhealthy" levels, but some felt that actual levels should be higher.
But Hamim hit out at such allegations being made on social media, and challenged those making them to bring their experts to prove their claims.
"The government is not lying, call any world expert, our method is according to international standards," he said. – September 30, 2015. 
- See more at: http://www.themalaysianinsider.com/malaysia/article/ministry-defends-api-data-says-meet-global-standards#sthash.2VHJSqcM.dpuf

No comments: