Press Statement: Both PM2.5 and PM10 are health measures and PM2.5 is a far superior measure.

PRESS STATEMENT of Wong Chen, PKR Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya

I appreciate the reply of the new Deputy Minister of Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, Datuk Hamim Samuri on the issue of the Malaysian API data. I previously had dealings with him when he was a Deputy Minister in MITI and appreciate his straightforward answers.

Yesterday, Datuk Hamim was quoted as saying this on The Malaysian Insider, “For Malaysia, our API is more sensitive to the health effects while Singapore’s is more targeted towards outside activities, so if their API reading is 120 or 150, they would possibly tell their people not to participate in outdoor activities, but ours is pegged to health, that is why we use the international protocol,”.

I do not share his views that PM10 measures health, whereas PM2.5 (as used in Singapore) measures whether it is ok to pursue outdoor activities. Both are in fact health measures whereby PM2.5 is a far superior health measure than PM10.

The US Environmental Protection Agency website states the following: “Particles less than 2.5 micrometers in diameter (PM2.5) are referred to as “fine” particles and are believed to pose the greatest health risks. Because of their small size (approximately 1/30th the average width of a human hair), fine particles can lodge deeply into the lungs.”

Thanks to Datuk Hamim’s revelations, we now know for a fact that there are currently twelve PM2.5 facilities in Malaysia. Three years ago, in 2012, the government had five PM2.5 facilities. What it means is that from 2012 to 2015, the government has only managed to install seven additional PM2.5 facilities. This rate of implementation does not demonstrate any form of urgency on the part of the government to improve its reporting on the yearly haze problem. If there is genuine political will to safeguard the health of 30 million Malaysians, I am certain within 12 months from today, the DOE Ministry will be able to install all the DOE sites with PM2.5 machines.

I therefore call upon the Minister to disclose the cost of purchasing and installing a PM2.5 machine and the duration of time needed for a DOE site to be installed, tested and go live.

Lastly, I ask the Ministry to commit to the following:
(a) To report hourly PM2.5 measurements in all existing 12 sites which are PM2.5 ready; and
(b) To install all DOE sites with PM2.5 machines before the next haze season starts.

Wong Chen
Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya

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