Friday, August 12, 2005

Air Quality Index

In another attempt to downplay the significance of our API(Air Pollutant Index) ratings, which hasn't been released over the last couple of years because in 1997 Malaysia practically banned the publication or the release of any API readings for fear that it will affect our tourism industry. While API might not sound the same as AQI, it is essentially the same reading.

0-50: Good (green)
51-100: Moderate (yellow)
101-150: Unhealthy for sensitive groups (orange)
151-200: Unhealthy (red)
201-300: Very unhealthy (purple)
301-500: Hazardous (maroon)

As of 5pm yesterday, the API levels in Kuala Lumpur reached 295, Petaling Jaya 326, Port Klang 486, Kuala Selangor 527, Shah Alam 430 and Putrajaya 354.

The media has thus led us to believe that anything from 300 to 400 is dangerous, but still acceptable, since it isn't in the 'Hazardous' bracket, but was that category created to alleviate panic? If you look at it carefully, we already have reached hazardous levels in most areas, and shutting down Port Klang and Kuala Selangor is just the first step; although if you look at it properly, those two locations have already went off the chart in the AQI readings. How soon will we be informed of the exact dangers that hang over us like the plague? Will surgical masks save us then? Or just like any other year will we just sit tight and hope it blows over? What of the long term effects that follow?

Simply too many questions and not enough answers.