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An aerial view of Kuala Lumpur covered in thick smoke due to the haze.- NSTP/Intan Nur Elliana Zakaria

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur was today ranked the seventh most polluted city in the world, according to Switzerland-based pollution mapping service AirVisual.

Kuala Lumpur currently has an US Air Quality Index (AQI) of 127, which equates to “unhealthy for sensitive groups”.

Also in the list was Kuching, which ranked 17, with an 80 AQI.

Yesterday, Kuala Lumpur was ranked first of most polluted cities with a 165 reading, which equates to “unhealthy”, above Jakarta, Riyadh, Lahore, Delhi, and others.

However, despite showing a slight improvement, many parts of the country continue to be blanketed by haze.

According to the Air Pollutant Index (API) reading published by the Department of Environment, 17 areas in the country recorded an unhealthy level as of 5pm today.

In Selangor; Johan Setia recorded the highest API with 194 followed by Kuala Selangor (133), Shah Alam (127), Klang (123), Petaling Jaya (119) and Banting (110).

In the Federal Territories, Putrajaya recorded a 120 API reading, while in Kuala Lumpur, areas with unhealthy readings are Batu Muda (136) and Cheras (118).

In Negri Sembilan; Nilai recorded an API reading of 115, while in Penang, Balik Pulau recorded 132 and Minden, 111.

Other areas that were also affected include Seri Manjung (141) and Tasek Ipoh (104) in Perak; Tangkak (110) in Johor; Jerantut (112) in Pahang and Sri Aman (150) in Sarawak.

The API issued by the Department of Environment categorises a reading of between 0-50 is considered good, 51-100 (moderate), 101-200 (unhealthy), 201-300 (very unhealthy) while 300 and above as hazardous.

Meanwhile, several schools in Shah Alam and Klang were closed following unhealthy air quality today.

The schools were Sekolah Kebangsaan (SK) Jalan Kebun, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Jalan Kebun, SK Bukit Naga, SK Kampung Johan Setia and SK Kampung Pendamar.

Selangor Education Department in a statement said the list of schools that were ordered to close will be updated regularly.

“Schools authorities in Selangor have been advised to refer to the circular issued by the Education Ministry on ways to manage the haze in the state, to safeguard the wellbeing of students.”

According to the circular, dated Jan 15, if the API level goes beyond 100 which is categorised as unhealthy, all out-of-classroom or outdoor activities are to be stopped.

If the API hits 200, which is very unhealthy, all schools in the affected areas or districts must be immediately shut down.

If the API breaches 500, which is the 'emergency' level, all teachers and staff are not required to be in school.

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