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Deception in Malaysia Vs. Singapore air quality ratings

How accurate are Malaysian air quality readings? AirVisual looks to debunk the idea that Malaysian air quality is better than Singapore's.

For those of you who have been keeping a vigilant watch over air quality levels from the Indonesian forest fires, you may have been puzzled to see that air pollution levels in Malaysia have been surprisingly better than in Singapore.

Malaysia and Singapore air quality comparison

Figure 1: Illustrates the major difference in air quality readings between Singapore and Malaysia

 

This discrepancy is not due an imaginary barrier, but rather to different methodologies used by each country.

While the Malaysian government uses a lower standard on AQI measurement (Air Quality Index) which does not include PM 2.5, Singapore requires a PSI (Pollutant Standards Index) similar to the American AQI measurements, which does.

Should PM2.5 be accounted for?

Absolutely. PM2.5 is known to pose the greatest health threat of all air pollutants. Due to it’s small size, it has the ability to both remain suspended in the air for long periods of time, and be absorbed deep into the bloodstream upon inhalation.

So why doesn’t the Malaysian government include PM 2.5 in their readings?

According to PKR’s Kelana Jaya MP Wong Chen Malaysia doesn’t include PM2.5 readings because it “resulted in overall and substantially lower measurements in Malaysia, creating a more positive and "illusionary picture" of the nation's air quality.”

Of course, this delusion is harmful to the people of Malaysia.

Fortunately, the DoE director-general Datuk Halimah Hasson claimed that the “department was in the final stages of working on the budget to include the sixth component in AQI calculations.” And, while this is a step in the right direction, immediate action needs to be implemented to help reduce the economic costs of poor air quality, and allow the public the opportunity to mitigate their own health risks.

If you are living in Malaysia this means you may want to wear an N95 air pollution mask - even when the local AQI does not recommend it.

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