Pasir Gudang, Johor is the first city in Malaysia to have a monitoring system that detects air quality and hazardous airborne pollutants
Energy, Science, Technology, Environment, and Climate Change (MESTECC) Minister Yeo Bee Yin said the system is to alert Department of Environment (DOE) enforcement officers to take immediate action in the event of an air pollution incident.
The air monitoring system reportedly costs about RM6.9 million.
Speaking to The Star, Yeo mentioned that the air monitoring system involves at least 25 installations of the Photoionisation Detector Stations (PIDs), which detects total volatile organic compound (TVOCs) in the environment.
Yeo added that two units of mobile gas chromatography-mass spectrometry (GCMS), and two units of mobile gas chromatography-flame ionisation detector (GCFID), along with six units of portable Fourier transform infrared spectroscopy (FTIR), were also made available at the district and had all been operating since January.
GCMS is used to analyse gases detected by PIDs, while GCFID and FTIR detect toxic gases.
The public can also check the air quality readings recorded by the system online starting from the fourth quarter of the year
"The air monitoring system will also directly give out alerts to DOE on the air quality of the area and DOE officers would then go to the location indicated in the system for further checks," she said.
If the system proved successful, it would be extended to other industrial areas in the country, she added.
The government had taken the extra initiative after the Sungai Kim Kim pollution incident in March last year
On 7 March 2019, more than 4,000 people, mainly schoolchildren, had fallen ill due to a water pollution incident caused by a toxic chemical dumping in Sungai Kim Kim.
The fallout from the incident also saw the temporary closure of 111 schools in the Pasir Gudang district.
According to Malay Mail, Yeo said, "Monitoring by drones has also been implemented since 23 October, to detect any contaminants and sources of contamination faster so that preventative measures can be taken early."
The ministry held a two-day workshop to review the Environmental Quality Act 1974
Yeo revealed that the new Act would be enacted if more amendments are made to the current Environmental Quality Act 1974.
"If there are a lot of changes, the ministry will create a new environmental law by this year," said Yeo.