The Air Pollutant Index (API) readings issued by the Department of Environment (DOE) are averages for 24 hours and have no direct correlation with the visibility range, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
She said API readings channelled by DOE via Air Pollutants Index Malaysia are the country's official API readings and the data were verified first before displaying to the public.
"The public is advised to refer to the API readings released by the DOE only to avoid any confusion," she told reporters after opening the Malaysian Research Institute on Ageing building at Universiti Putra Malaysia in Serdang today.
Dr Wan Azizah, who is also the national disaster management agency chairman, said this in response to the many queries about the accuracy of DOE's API readings due to the visibility range dropping in certain parts of the country on Sunday (Sept 22).
She said the use of PM2.5 (particulate matter up to 2.5 microns) in the calculation of the API followed international standards and is adopted by many countries for the sustainability of the environment.
According to the status report on the current haze situation in the country, as at 8am today, 40 locations recorded unhealthy air quality while only Johan Setia in Klang is facing very unhealthy air quality with the API reading at 212.
An API between zero and 50 indicates good air quality; 51-100 (moderate); 101-200 (unhealthy); 201- 300 (very unhealthy); 300 and above (hazardous).
Wan Azizah also said the API reading in Sri Aman in Sarawak, has improved following cloud seeding, water bombing and land fire fighting operations by the Malaysian fire and rescue department with the cooperation of related agencies.
However, she said peat fires were still occurring in Sri Aman involving a total of 10 acres of land.
At 8am today, the API reading at Sri Aman was 134.