Release AP-I..............Dr. m

Life does not cease to be funny when people die any more than it ceases to be serious when people laugh.

George Bernard Shaw
Irish dramatist & socialist (1856 - 1950)

My tongue in cheek caption, taking a pun at today's political issue is no laughing matter. All started by a statement from Dr M, "Release the AP list". Well this Dr m (note small "m") says "Release the AP-I (Air Pollutant Index)". I have been tracking the Haze episodes in Malaysia since 1997. I have written about it several times in Berita MMA under

  • A.P.I : Time to put it out!
  • Clouding the issue
  • Enterovirus, Haze, Nipah and Dioxin. What's Next?
  • Review
  • Hazedous
  • HAZE: Are we hazy about the facts
  • Today the issue is no clearer. All this cross border collaboration, transboundary meetings, Asean Haze Action, etc have clearly shown that we have not done enough. While the government ponders about how to bring yet another natural disaster (mainly man-made), there has been many calls to have the government release the API. There is no clear logical reason for not doing so. On the plus side, knowing the API will educate the public and create awareness, example, when the API rises, so as to allow them to report in cases of indiscriminate burning. It will allow elderly and young children to make informed decision as to what kind of activities they can be involved in outdoors.View at Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur at 8.10 am 10 Aug 2005 On the minus side, the government is worried that this may cause unnecessary fear and keep tourists away. I strongly believe the latter is completely false. Educating the public as to the cause of Haze which is primarily from forest fires, slash and burn activity and peat soil burning is different from smog or other forms of air pollution. The current haze is caused by particulate matters from burning wood or coal.

    Particulate matter, or PM, is the term for particles found in the air, including dust, dirt, soot, smoke, and liquid droplets.  Particles can be suspended in the air for long periods of time.  Some particles are large or dark enough to be seen as soot or smoke.  Others are so small that individually they can only be detected with an electron microscope.

    Some particles are directly emitted into the air. They come from a variety of sources such as cars, trucks, buses, factories, construction sites, tilled fields, unpaved roads, stone crushing, and burning of wood. Other particles may be formed in the air from the chemical change of gases. They are indirectly formed when gases from burning fuels react with sunlight and water vapor.  These can result from fuel combustion in motor vehicles, at power plants, and in other industrial processes. Chief causes of concern - (depending on the cause), PM

    Health problems for sensitive people can get worse if they are exposed to high levels of PM for several days in a row.

    In addition, we are living in a world where information is at the finger tips. The information highway makes it easy for anyone to get data on weather, news or haze effect in this region. One has only to go to to have an idea of the weather in Indonesia and you have written there prominently "Haze". This is the same for Malaysia, today for Kuala Lumpur. Couple this with a google search, "Haze Malaysia" will show Bloomberg has already wired this out.

    Let me quote from my June 2004 article, "By publishing the A.P.I index we do not have to refer to

    By visiting these sites, one has an idea or a good guesstimate of what it is like here in Malaysia. But one guess may not be good as another and that View at Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur at 12.40 pm 10 Aug 2005is how misinformation spreads. What is so wrong in releasing the A.P.I? The amount of news on "Rape" and "snatch thieves" that we have on our news everyday is enough to scare the tourists away! Singapore gives an hourly update of 3-hr PSI readings from 7am to 7pm. The readings are calculated based on PM10 concentrations only which makes sense as this is what we are interested in at the moment. Thailand has a more comprehensive air quality data given on a daily basis. So what is Malaysia so scared about? Are tourist not visiting Singapore and Thailand? "

    In the USA, the Clean Air Act, which was last amended in 1990, requires EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for pollutants considered harmful to public health and the environment. The Clean Air Act established two types of national air quality standards. Primary standards set limits to protect public health, including the health of "sensitive" populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. Secondary standards set limits to protect public welfare, including protection against decreased visibility, damage to animals, crops, vegetation, and buildings.

    The EPA Office of Air Quality Planning and Standards (OAQPS) has set National Ambient Air Quality Standards for six principal pollutants, which are called "criteria" pollutants. They are listed below. Units of measure for the standards are parts per million (ppm) by volume, milligrams per cubic meter of air (mg/m3), and micrograms per cubic meter of air (g/m3). View at Damansara Heights, Kuala Lumpur at 5.26 pm 11 Aug 2005

    National Ambient Air Quality Standards


    Primary Stds.

    Averaging Times

    Secondary Stds.

    Carbon Monoxide

    9 ppm (10 mg/m3)



    35 ppm
    (40 mg/m3)




    1.5 g/m3

    Quarterly Average

    Same as Primary

    Nitrogen Dioxide

    0.053 ppm
    (100 g/m3)

    Annual (Arithmetic Mean)

    Same as Primary

    Particulate Matter (PM10)

    50 g/m3

    Annual2 (Arith. Mean)

    Same as Primary

    150 ug/m3



    Particulate Matter (PM2.5)

    15.0 g/m3

    Annual3 (Arith. Mean)

    Same as Primary

    65 ug/m3




    0.08 ppm


    Same as Primary

    Sulfur Oxides

    0.03 ppm

    Annual (Arith. Mean)


    0.14 ppm





    0.5 ppm
    (1300 ug/m3)

    1 Not to be exceeded more than once per year.
    2 To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the weighted annual mean PM10 concentration at each monitor within an area must not exceed 50 ug/m3.
    3 To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the weighted annual mean PM2.5 concentrations from single or multiple community-oriented monitors must not exceed 15.0 ug/m3.
    4 To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the 98th percentile of 24-hour concentrations at each population-oriented monitor within an area must not exceed 65 ug/m3.
    5 To attain this standard, the 3-year average of the fourth-highest daily maximum 8-hour average ozone concentrations measured at each monitor within an area over each year must not exceed 0.08 ppm.

    22 Aug 2005 10.10 amWe should have similar standards for Malaysia. I do not think anyone blames the government for the haze, we all know it is mainly from Indonesia, (maybe with some help from some local fires) but we can blame them if they insist in keeping us in the dark by not furnishing the API. What is important, is our media are more objective and do not sensationalise the issue.

    I am not sure but maybe we should look at the "World Largest Waterbomber" . Maybe we could have a couple in this region to have a quick global/local response action in putting out fires.

    Lastly, from my August 1999 issue I concluded the following:


    Dr Muruga Vadivale a.k.a "Cyberdoc"

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