GEORGE TOWN – The haze in Penang has worsened, leaving the state at the brink of the “Unhealthy” Air Pollutant Index (API) level.

At 7am yesterday, the API reading recorded in Seberang Prai was 88 but it inched to 90 by 11am before hitting 98 at 5pm just three points short of the “Unhealthy” category which begins at 101.

The situation was only slightly better in Prai where the API went from 82 (7am) to 83 (11am) and 88 at 5pm.

On Penang island, the API at Universiti Sains Malaysia started off at 73 at 7am and rose to 80 by 5pm.

According to the Department of Environment, most of the recorded pollution in the air at all three locations was made of particulate matter, also known as PM10.

The NOAA-18 satellite, which hovers over Borneo Island, recorded a total of 163 hotspots in Sumatra, widely seen as a cause of the worsening haze, as of 4.15pm yesterday.

A check with the Meteorological Department showed that visibility in the state had also worsened during the day.

In Bayan Lepas, visibility was at 6km from 8am to 1pm, then fell to 5km (1pm) and worsened to 4km (2pm to 5pm).

On the mainland, visibility was recorded at 6km (8am to 4pm) before dropping to 5km around 5pm.

According to the department’s official, no rain is forecast for the whole week.

Meanwhile, Penang Water Supply Corporation corporate affairs manager K. Jeyabalan said the state would not suffer a shortage as the two main dams had enough water to last up to three months.

He said the Mengkuang and Air Itam dams were full due to the constant rainfall last month but Penangites should still conserve water because the country was currently facing a hot spell.