Smoke from plantation fires in Indonesian Borneo and Sumatra are casting a pall over cities in Malaysia, triggering health warnings from officials, reports The Straits Times.
A bulletin posted on the web site for Malaysia’s Ministry of Environment shows that more than 80 percent of Malaysia has “moderate” air quality, falling between 50-100 on the air pollution index. The ministry said the public should limit outdoor activities.
Data from NASA shows some hundreds of hotspots concentrated in Sumatra’s Riau province, where the pulp and paper industry is rapidly converting forest for plantations, and West and Central Kalimantan, where large areas are being opened up for oil palm plantations. Burning is expected to worsen in coming months. Rains usually return to the region in September or October.