Haze crisis: Kuching declared ‘world’s most polluted city’


KUALA LUMPUR: Although it often makes the list of Asia’s cleanest cities, Kuching has today earned the shocking distinction of being “the most polluted city in the world” due to the worsening haze in southwestern Sarawak.

Kuching earned the ignoble title today when its air quality, as measured by the US Air Quality Index (AQI), hit 202, which is classified as “very unhealthy”.

This is the second time in a week a Malaysian city has topped the list of the world’s most polluted metropolises, according to the US-based website World’s Air Pollution: Real-time Air Quality Index/

On Wednesday, Kuala Lumpur “clinched” the top spot thanks to an AQI reading of 165, beating the likes of Jakarta, Lahore and Delhi, to top the league table.

Other major urban centres in Malaysia also featured in the list with “very unhealthy” AQI levels.

They include Tangkak, Johor; and the Melaka towns of Kampung Masjid Tanah, Pulau Sebang, Bemban and Tampin.

Meanwhile, according to the Department of Environment’s latest Air Pollutant Index (API) reading published at 4pm today, two urban centres in Malaysia are experiencing “very unhealthy” air, in addition to Kuching.

They are Melaka city, which registered an API of 217; and Tangkak, which hit 255.

Up to 26 other areas nationwide registered “unhealthy” air as of 4pm.

Indera Mahkota Kuantan had the highest API reading for Pahang at 144; Port Dickson topped all areas in Negri Sembilan (195); and Johan Setia was the worst for Selangor (111).

All areas in Kuala Lumpur recorded moderate API readings; while Putrajaya’s API has reached an unhealthy 124.

All areas in Sabah and Labuan recorded moderate API readings; while most areas on the northern and east coasts of the Peninsula registered good and moderate API numbers.

The API categorises a reading of between 0 and 50 as good; 51-100 (moderate); 101-200 (unhealthy); 201-300 (very unhealthy); and 300 and above (hazardous).


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