Poll: As smog gets in your eyes, how accurate are our API readings?


A thick smog has blanketed Penang, with visibility less than 1km. Residents of Penang Island have their own air quality indicator: if the imposing Penang Hill at the centre of the island vanishes from sight, you should be concerned!

This smog is the worst it has been for years, perhaps since 1997. Now we hear that the oil palm fires in Indonesia are emitting more greenhouse gases than the entire US economy.

For a deeper discussion of the smog and the oil palm industry, check out agribusiness researcher Khor Yu Leng’s blogs here and here.

This morning, a friend sent me a message saying he feels like choking.

Later, a security guard wearing a surgical mask advised me to wear one before I stepped outdoors. Ironically, a couple of weeks ago, this same guard had told me he was trying to quit smoking! Poor chap.

About an hour ago, a neighbour asked me later why I was sitting outside to read. Everyone quite concerned.

The API reading just after noon for the island? 149. In Kuala Lumpur, it is 154 and in Section 14, PJ, it is 187. You can see the API reading for your area at the same link. (Remember, below 50 is healthy, 51-100 is moderate, 101-200 unhealthy, 201-300 very unhealthy, and over 300 hazardous.)

I hear that with advances in technology, it is not rocket science to obtain accurate API readings: realistic analyses of air quality can be obtained with fairly simple equipment without having to buy ultra-sophisticated and super-expensive equipment. Meanwhile, let’s do a quick poll to find out what you think of our official API readings:

Please help to support this blog if you can.

Read the commenting guidlelines for this blog.
Notify of

Most Voted
Newest Oldest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Terry P
Terry P
24 Oct 2015 4.24pm

Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) began legal proceedings under its Transboundary Haze Pollution Act (THPA) against five Indonesian companies in September and a sixth this month, all of whom are believed in part to be behind the haze. The Preventative Measures Notice serves as a kind of “cease and desist” request and asks offending companies to present plans to the NEA on how the companies plan to extinguish fires and a promise not to start any new ones. The act is unique in that it can fine offenders – Singaporean or foreign – around $70,000 for each day they contribute… Read more »

Johan Khun Pana
Johan Khun Pana
24 Oct 2015 6.32am

Universities (Mara can be excluded, as they are not Malaysian) should make their results/finding available online .
it is easy to auto upload the result in real time.
Additional details such as type of and percentage of compound / pollutant in the air

It is either odd or funny when the official data released by the federal govt is not to be believe and can be treated as error or comedic at it’s best.
Can’t really blame the public when the federal govt & authorities are a bunch of errors.

Keith Rozario
23 Oct 2015 1.53pm


The answer you’re looking for is 20% on average difference, but over the last 8 days, the API readings have been off by about 35% as compared to Singapores readings.

Here’s the empirical data:

23 Oct 2015 11.45am

Sight of a dolphin near Penang Bridge could be a welcome relief as the mammal may migrate away from hazy Indonesia water towards Penang?

21 Oct 2015 11.01pm

Malaysia is reporting PM10 particulates while many other countries like Spore, HK and China are reporting PM2.5 particulates. PM2.5 particulates are more hazardous to health because of their smaller size which enable them to go into our bloodstream. Readings from these countries reporting PM2.5 particulates are consistently 60-100 points higher than our PM10 readings. That means, if our PM10 reading is a moderate 70, it could be an unhealthy 150 when reported using the PM2.5 scale.

23 Oct 2015 5.13pm
Reply to  Tan

PM2.5 particulates is more harmful but our system cannot measure it.

24 Oct 2015 6.47pm
Reply to  Tan

China switched to PM 2.5 after the US embassy there started publishing them. I wonder why the US embassy here does not do the same. Is it because it is waiting for the TPP?

21 Oct 2015 9.56pm

The only time I get smoke in my watery eyes is when I visit Goddess of Mercy Temple (Kuan Yin Teng) in Jalan Masjid Capitan Keling on the eve of Chinese New Year. But I usually don’t mind b’cos it is spiritually good for my wellbeing at the start of a new lunar year. BUT this 3 decades old smog problem don’t seem to go away. And it has caused enormous economic loss to many businesses in Asean, not to mention the health hazards esp. to those with asthmatic problems. Will the Indonesian gomen do anything to effectively deal with… Read more »