Winds could clear Malaysian smog

Malaysia may get a respite from this summer's smog as forecasters in the region have predicted winds will help to clear the haze this week.

Smog has been a recurrent feature in Malaysia over the past few decades, which authorities blame mainly on land clearing and “slash and burn” agricultural practices in neighbouring Indonesia.

Last week, weather forecasters warned the smog was set to continue as the number of air pollution “hotspots” in Sumatra was still high.

The number of hotspots had peaked at the beginning of the month with nearly 550.

Although by the weekend the number of hotspots in Sumatra had dropped to just above 150 hotpots, a lack of rain in Malaysia has prevented the skies clearing.

But the state Meteorological Department told journalists in Malaysia that the haze is expected to clear up this week.

A department spokesperson told The Star newspaper: “The skies became hazy about two weeks ago and by next week, we should have clear skies again because of the inter-monsoon winds.

“Because of the morning showers, the dust particles are cleared up quite quickly so the visibility usually improves for a while.

“However, fair weather in the later part of the day reduces the visibility again because there is no rain to clear the air.”

According the paper, there has been a large increase in the number of children visiting doctors complaining of respiratory problems since the haze first began in May.

Officials at Hope Childrens Hospital, in Penang, said there had been a 20% increase in the number of young patients since the haze started.

Two years ago, ministers in Malaysia declared a state of emergency as thick smog engulfed the region.

Kate Martin

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