As haze worsens, Malaysia looking into cloud seeding

Malaysia is studying the feasibility of cloud seeding to induce rain in areas that are currently affected by the haze.

Deputy Prime Minister Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail underscored on Saturday (Sep 7) that the Meteorology Department (MetMalaysia) would have to consider the atmospheric condition of the affected areas.

“If you want to do cloud seeding, you have to know there should be clouds. If there aren’t any, it will be meaningless,” Dr. Wan Azizah pointed out.

Transboundary haze was detected on Thursday, spreading from the Indonesian province of West Kalimantan on Borneo to the island’s Malaysian side, Indonesia’s climate agency reported on Friday.

Seven areas in Sarawak recorded unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) readings as of Saturday, compared with six on Friday, with Kuching registering a very unhealthy API reading of 224 as of 6 pm.

The Department of Environment categorizes an API of between 0 and 50 as good, 51 to 100 moderate, 101 to 200 unhealthy, 201 to 300 very unhealthy while 300 and above is hazardous.

Despite the deteriorating condition, the Sarawak state education department has no plans to defer the Ujian Penilaian Sekolah Rendah (UPSR), a national exam for Primary Six students.

Instead, students will be provided face masks as a precautionary measure.

“If the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings exceed 201, schools will be closed, but the UPSR examination will go on as scheduled under strict supervision by the school and exam invigilators,” the head of Sarawak State Disaster Management Committee (JPBN) secretariat, Major Ismail Mahedin said in a statement.

Meanwhile, Dr. Wan Azizah, who is the National Disaster Management Committee chairman, pledged that state disaster management teams and the relevant authorities, including the Fire and Rescue Department, will continue to monitor the situation on the ground.

“The National Disaster Management Agency (Nadma) and the state government will allocate some funds to get masks to the people,” she added.

Dr. Wan Azizah also advised Malaysians, especially those in the affected areas, to remain indoors and wear masks when they go outdoors to avoid any health complications.

Eleven areas in Malaysia have recorded unhealthy API levels, the highest number of places affected since the start of this year’s haze season.

Malaysia will send a diplomatic note to Indonesia to take swift action on putting out the fires that are causing haze in the region.

Deputy Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change Minister Isnaraissah Munirah Majilis said the note would also urge Indonesia to prevent the fires from recurring.


Kuching, Sarawak shrouded in haze. Picture credit: DayakDaily