Is the air grey or orange? – Michelle Wong
This is article in The Malaysian Insider. It’s written by a friend of mine – Michelle.
Is the air grey or orange? – Michelle Wong
I read with disbelief about the denial of the Department of Environment’s (DOE), as reported by Bernama in The Star on October 21, 2015, headlined “No yellow haze, says DOE”.
As it is, every year Malaysians have to brace themselves for this annual air pollution crisis. It returns like clockwork without fail to suffocate us with the many shades of grey, like in the past month.
Naturally, tech savvy netizens took to the Internet to air their concerns and share their experience, so it is shocking and unbecoming of the DOE to slam and brush off photos shared on social media (mostly on October 20, 2015) showing that the ‘colour’ of the smoke in yellow as false.
I have enclosed here photos personally taken by myself at my balcony on two consecutive days with the same view for comparison (October 19, 2015 and October 20, 2015 respectively).
Raw unedited photos with no filter applied for all to judge and for DOE to tell me – a normal citizen, concerned with the health and welfare of my family and friends, are these fake photos?
Personally, I was shocked when the colour of the smoke suddenly changed to yellow-orange (from grey) and my view outside was basked in a sick yellow mustard colour with a sharp acrid smell.
These denials coupled with the lack of relevant API readings demonstrate the department’s irresponsibility and indifference to the health of Malaysians.
To further substantiate this point is the DOE’s lack of resolve in implementing the complete and comprehensive Particulate Matter standards; both for short and long-term exposure.
I am asking this because I have compared the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) Air Quality Guidelines and the Environmental Impact Assessment reports for highway projects approved by the DOE and noticed the standard imposed was based on 24hour-mean rather than on more relevant and stringent annual-mean basis.
Even if a PM10 24hour-mean standard is sufficient, I was shocked to see the API ceiling limit set at 150 when our government and media widely report API 100 to 200 is so unhealthy that we should close schools, minimize outdoor activities and use N95 mask when we are outside!
Even more shocking was when I notice WHO recommend only API of 50!
Could this mean the DOE has been approving EIA for high impact permanent developmental projects by using a more relaxed standard, one that is at least twice above national guideline and thrice higher than international standards?
Rather than denying that the photos of the yellow smoke were false claims circulating the social media, DOE is missing the whole point entirely. The Rakyat is fed-up with the smoke, whatever colour it is.
The Ministry of Education (MOE) had been under fire for issuing inconsistent school closure statements because of their reliance on information obtained from the DOE during this period.
Parents putting the blame on schools and the MOE for not closing schools when API readings were low yet, in reality, we could hardly see the buildings next to us, and vice versa.
This has caused much ire as the root cause of the problem stems from reliance on information obtained from the DOE for decision-making on school closures – the only source of information other than independent API readers, or our own noses and eyes.
Air pollution is no longer just an environmental issue, it is mass murder through chemical poisoning. We have more than tolerated this annual event. There needs to be long term solutions to solve this matter once and for all. Enough is enough.
How is the rakyat supposed to place trust in a department entrusted to approve Environmental Impact Assessment reports for mega-projects when it cannot even provide proper information on the smoke? – October 22, 2015.
Also see: No yellow haze, says DOE
If you have been following my blog, you would know that we were talking about this “yellow haze” just 2 days back. From my office, it was very obvious as well that it was yellowish outside.
I don’t claim to know what caused it. Could be hazardous gas. Or just hazy particles causing refraction. But, what I do know is… It was yellow yesterday.
I think it is just plain silly for anyone to deny it.