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Pasir Gudang’s second air pollution case: What’s going on

Pasir Gudang’s second air pollution case: What’s going on

Tasneem Nazari

School children in Pasir Gudang are sick…again.

Thursday last week (June 20) saw 15 people rushed to the hospital after complaining of breathing difficulties and vomiting, believed to be caused by air pollution.

Picture credit: Astro Awani

This is the second time in three months that Pasir Gudang has faced a health emergency due to air pollution. In March, 111 schools closed down after children got ill due to toxic waste being dumped into Sg Kim Kim.

The Johor authorities have yet to find the source of the air pollution. However, here’s what has been done to tackle the situation there so far.

1. Air pollution tests at affected areas

Picture credit: The Star

During the incident on Thursday, Bomba and their Hazmat unit, Emergency Medical Rescue service, the department of Environment and several other agencies were deployed to test the air at the affected schools for pollutants. 

Their inspections showed that the air quality was normal and under control. The authorities will continue to monitor the air quality in the area.

2. Activation of scientific committee

On June 22, the state government activated a scientific committee to carry out investigations and identify the main cause of the latest air pollution incident.

3. Blood test on the victims

On June 23, Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal said the authorities were still investigating the cause of the incident. He said that blood tests had been done with hopes to get a clearer picture over what’s happening.

4. Closing of all education institutions in the district

Picture credit: Harian Metro

On June 24, all educational institutions in Pasir Gudang district were ordered to close for three days to allow authorities to work on clearing the pollution.

475 education institutions in Pasir Gudang comprising of 111 primary and secondary schools, three higher education institutions, 14 private and international schools and 347 private kindergartens, were all ordered to close until Thursday while the authorities manage the incident.

5. Roadblocks to stop attempts to bring out toxic waste from the district

(Image for illustration purposes only)
Picture credit: Free Malaysia Today

Police set up roadblocks at the Pasir Gudang exit points as a precautionary measure to make sure no one smuggles toxic waste out of Pasir Gudang while the authorities conduct their investigations.

Two roadblocks were set up on June 24, and police manned the locations for 24 hours.

6. Inspection of chemical factories in the area

Picture credit: The Star

30 chemical factories were shortlisted by Johor enforcement authorities for inspection. 

Yesterday (June 25), four of the 30 chemical factories, were inspected by the state Department of Environment. During their operation, the authorities detected the presence of dangerous gases outside the factory premises.

Inspections will continue to be conducted over the next several days to identify the gas causing air pollution in the area.

The public has been urged to seek treatment if you experience difficulties in breathing, nausea, dizziness, headache, muscle cramps and body weakness.

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