Ms. Isabella, a Southeast Asian analyst at the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA), pointed out that a survey on the air pollution index of eight regions in Malaysia showed that from 2019 to mid-2022, non of the regions reached the standard level set by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Malaysian government. The 2 areas with the worst air pollution index are Klang and Petaling Jaya.
According to a report jointly released by CREA and Greenpeace, among the eight Malaysian districts - Ipoh, Johor Bahru, Klang, Kota Bharu, Kuala Lumpur, Kuching, Petaling Jaya and Shah Alam, Klang and Petaling Jaya ranked first in unhealthy air quality standards from 2019 to 2021, far exceeding the air quality standards of WHO and Malaysia; while Shah Alam ranked third, Kuala Lumpur fourth, and Johor Bahru fifth, Ipoh sixth, Kota Bharu seventh, and Kuching eighth.
Ms. Isabella said that the Malaysian National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NMAAQS) and the current air pollutant concentrations in Malaysia are still far beyond the air quality standards set by the WHO.
She pointed out that air pollution in Malaysia is usually caused by industrial manufacturing, power generation, vehicles and open burning.
"Power plants account for 39% of particulate matter (PM) emissions, or about 62% of carbon dioxide and sulfur dioxide; industrial manufacturing, such as chemicals, rubber and metal processing, accounts for 29% of particulate matter emissions; residential, commercial and agricultural incineration (Open burning) accounts for another 20%; vehicles account for 12% of particulate emissions, but they account for only 24% of CO2.”
The report also pointed out that while air pollutant emissions from large emission sources such as power plants and industrial activities increased in 2020, overall air pollution in Malaysia decreased in 2020.
“The movement control order due to COVID-19 has reduced other sources of pollution, especially emissions from roads and biomass burning. Malaysia’s lowest record since 2010 is PM10, which refers to ambient air having a diameter of less than or equal to 10 Micron particles are relatively less harmful to human health.”
She said this during a press conference held today by the Centre for Research on Energy and Clean Air (CREA) and GreenPeace on "The Impact of Ambient Air Quality on Health and Economy in Malaysia".
She said the 2020 decline in the Air Pollution Index was due to the fact that humid weather conditions in Malaysia and neighbouring countries reduced biomass burning and forest fires, which in turn caused seasonal haze to be less frequent than in previous years.
At the same time, if my country's annual air pollution index meets the 2021 World Health Organization air quality standards, it will save about 22,000 lives each year, and it is estimated that the annual number of premature deaths will be reduced by 67%.
The Centre for Energy and Clean Air Research estimates that the health impacts of air pollution in Malaysia will cost RM303 billion (US$73 billion) annually, or 20% of the country’s gross domestic product in 2019.
"As a result of the consequent increase in air pollution-related illnesses, it will affect people's livelihoods and be forced to miss work, resulting in premature health care and medical expenditures."
In this regard, Greenpeace activist Ong Jiajun suggested that the Malaysian government ask the Ministry of Environment and Water to make public health and healthy ecosystems the main objectives of the air quality framework.
“Making ambient air quality standards legally binding, time-sensitive and enforceable is equivalent to incorporating ambient air quality standards into Malaysia’s main air quality legislation; strengthening ambient air quality standards through systems of transparency, information, public participation and accountability; Strong public health and environmental goals; clear implementation and execution of plans.”
He also urged governments to develop and update standard requirements for interdisciplinary assessments and expert public health input, as well as a regular review process to update labelling to comply with global guidelines and the latest scientific knowledge.
Reference Links -
 Oriental Daily