Overview of Health Impacts due to Haze Pollution in Johor, Malaysia

Nur H. Hanafi, Mimi Haryani Hassim, Zainura Z. Noor


Haze pollution is one of the major environmental issues caused by aerosols, having brought about a history of heavy smog pollution events like the London smog in 1952 and the Los Angeles smog in the 1960s. However, in Malaysia, haze events are attributed to forest and peat fires in Kalimantan and Southern Sumatra, Indonesia. The burned biomass basically contains concentrated particulate matters that are hazardous to health among susceptible population groups. Based on the extensive literature review conducted, the small number of available local studies on the health effects of air pollution in Malaysia conducted so far focused on air pollution sciences. In this paper, a comprehensive overview of studies done on the impacts of haze on health conditions among populations in Malaysia is presented. The result shows that the number of upper respiratory tract infection cases was directly proportional to the particulate matter concentration and Air Pollution Index value in Johor in the years 2014 and 2015. Particulate matteris the major contributor in the formation of heavy hazes and is more likely to initiate detrimental health effects compared to other inhalable particles due to their size, large area, and strong activity, making them more likely to carry harmful substances causing a higher number of infected patients with upper respiratory tract infections.


air pollution; haze; health impact; particulate matter; peat fire; public health

Full Text:



MMS, Report on Air Quality in Malaysia as Monitored by the Malaysian Meteorological Service 1994, Technical Note No. 55, Malaysian Meteorological Service, Jalan Sultan, 46667 Petaling Jaya, Selangor, Malaysia, 1995.

Reid, J.S., Hyer, E.J., Johnson, R.S., Holben, B.N., Yokelson, R.J., Zhang, J., Campbell, J.R., Christopher, S.A., Di Girolamo, L., Giglio, L., Holz, R.E., Kearney, C., Miettinen, J., Reid, E.A., Turk, F.J., Wang, J., Xian, P., Zhao, G., Balasubramanian, R., Chew, B.N., Janai, S., Lagrosas, N., Lestari, P., Lin, N.-H., Mahmud, M., Nguyen, A.X., Norris, B., Oahn, N.T.K., Oo, M., Salinas, S.V., Welton, E.J. & Liew, S.C., Observing and Understanding the Southeast Asian Aerosol System by Remote Sensing: An initial review and analysis for the Seven Southeast Asian Studies (7SEAS) program, Atmos. Res., 122, pp. 403-468, 2013.

Cunningham, B., Cunningham, M.A. & Saigo, B.W., Environmental Science: A global concern (8th ed.), Boston, United States: McGraw Hill, 2005.

Colls, J.J., & Micallef, A., Towards Better Human Exposure Estimates for Setting of Air Quality Standards, Atmospheric Environment, 31(24), 4253, 1997.

Enger, E.D., & Smith, B.F., Environmental Science: A Study of Interrelationships (7th ed.), Boston, Mass., United States: McGraw-Hill, 2000.

Keywood, M.D., Ayers, G.P., Gras, J.L., Boers, J.L. & Leong, C.P., Haze in the Klang Valley of Malaysia, Atmos Chem Phys Discuss, 3, pp. 615-653, 2003.

DOE 2016, Air Quality Standards, http://www.doe.gov.my /portalv1/wpcontent/uploads/2013/01/Air-Quality-Standard-BI.pdf/. Accessed: 9 Aug 2018.

Rahman, S.R.A., Ismail, S.N.S., Ramli, M.F., Latif, M.T., Abidin, E.Z. & Praveena, S.M., The Assessment of Ambient Air Pollution Trend in Klang Valley, World Environment, 5(1), pp. 1-11, 2015.

Marufish World of Disaster Prevention, Regional Haze Condition on 3 October 2015, http://marufish.com/2015/10/03/regional-haze-condition-on-3-october-2015/. Accessed: 9 Aug 2018.

Abdul Rahman, H., Haze Phenomenon in Malaysia: Domestic or Trans-boundary Factor?, pp. 597-599, 3rd International Journal Conference on Chemical Engineering and its Applications (ICCEA'13) Sept. 28-29, 2013 Phuket (Thailand) 2013.

Varkkey, H., Patronage Politics, Plantation Fires and Transboundary Haze, Environmental Hazards, 12(3-4), pp. 200-217, 2013. doi:10.1080/17477891.2012.759524

Mei Mei Chu, Wan Junaidi: Peatfires an economic issue, 7 August 2017, https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/08/07/johan-setia-peatfires-economic-issue/ Accessed: 12 Aug 2018.

Fuller, D.O., Jessup, T.C., & Salim, A., Loss of Forest Cover in Kalimantan, Indonesia, Since the 1997-1998 El Niño, Conservation Biology, 18(1), 249-254, 2004. doi:10.1111/j.1523-1739.2004.00018.x

Nichol, J., New Directions Smoke Haze in Southeast Asia: A Predictable Recurrence, Atmospheric Environment, 32(14-15), pp. 2715-2716, 1998. doi:10.1016/S1352-2310(98)00086-7.

Odihi, J.O., Haze in Southeast Asia: Needed Local Actions for a Regional Problem, Pure and Applied Geophysics, 160(1-2), pp. 205-220, 2003. doi:10.1007/s00024-003-8773-8.

Reddington, C.L., Yoshioka, M., Balasubramanian, R., Ridley, D., Toh, Y.Y., Arnold, S. R. & Spracklen, D.V., Contribution of Vegetation and Peat Fires to Particulate Air Pollution in Southeast Asia, Environmental Research Letters, 9(9), pp. 1-12, 2014. doi:10.1088/1748-9326/9/9/094006.

Siegert, F., Ruecker, G., Hinrichs, A. & Hoffmann, A.A., Increased Damage from Fires in Logged Forests during Droughts caused by El Niño, Nature, 414(6862), pp. 437-440, 2001. doi:10.1038/35106547.

Wooster, M.J., Perry, G.L.W. & Zoumas, A., Fire, Drought and El Niño Relationships on Borneo (Southeast Asia) in the pre-MODIS era (1980-2000), Biogeosciences, 9(1), pp. 317-340, 2012. doi:10.5194/bg-9-317-2012.

Tosca, M.G., Randerson, J.T., Zender, C.S., Nelson, D.L., Diner, D.J. & Logan, J.A., Dynamics of Fire Plumes and Smoke Clouds Associated with Peat and Deforestation Fires in Indonesia, Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 116(8), pp. 1-54, 2011.

Field, R.D. & Shen, S.S.P., Predictability of Carbon Emissions from Biomass Burning in Indonesia from 1997 to 2006, Journal of Geophysical Research: Biogeosciences, 113(4), pp. 1-17, 2008.

Field, R.D., Van Der Werf, G.R., & Shen, S.S.P., Human Amplification of Drought-induced Biomass Burning in Indonesia since 1960, Nature Geoscience, 2(3), pp.1 85-188, 2009. doi:10.1038/ngeo443.

Nassar, R., Logan, J.A., Megretskaia, I.A., Murray, L.T., Zhang, L. & Jones, D.B.A., Analysis of Tropical Tropospheric Ozone, Carbon Monoxide, and Water Vapor during the 2006 El Niño Using TES Observations and the GEOS-Chem Model, Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 114(17), pp. 1-23, 2009.

Saji, N.H., Goswami, B.N., Vinayachandran, P.N. & Yamagata, T., A Dipole Mode in the Tropical Indian ocean, Nature, 401(6751), pp. 360-363, 1999. doi:10.1038/43855.

See, S.W., Balasubramanian, R. & Wang, W., A Study of the Physical, Chemical, and Optical Properties of Ambient Aerosol Particles in Southeast Asia during Hazy and Nonhazy Days, Journal of Geophysical Research Atmospheres, 111(10), pp. 1-12 2006. doi:10.1029/2005JD006180.

Koh, L.P., Miettinen, J., Liew, S.C. & Ghazoul, J., Remotely Sensed Evidence of Tropical Peatland Conversion to Oil Palm, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 108(12), pp. 5127-5132, 2011. doi:10.1073/pnas.1018776108.

Miettinen, J., Shi, C. & Liew, S.C., Deforestation Rates in Insular Southeast Asia between 2000 and 2010, Global Change Biology, 17(7), pp. 2261-2270, 2011. doi:10.1111/j.1365-2486.2011.02398.x.

Ramdani, F. & Hino, M., Land Use Changes and GHG Emissions from Tropical Forest Conversion by Oil Palm Plantations in Riau Province, Indonesia, PLoS ONE, 8(7), pp. 1-6, 2013. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0070323.

Stibig, H.J., Achard, F., Carboni, S., Raši, R. & Miettinen, J., Change in Tropical Forest Cover of Southeast Asia from 1990 to 2010, Biogeosciences, 11(2), pp. 247-258, 2014. doi:10.5194/bg-11-247-2014.

Carlson, K.M., Curran, L.M., Ratnasari, D., Pittman, A. M., Soares-Filho, B.S., Asner, G.P. & Rodrigues, H.O., Committed Carbon Emissions, Deforestation, and Community Land Conversion from Oil Palm Plantation Expansion in West Kalimantan, Indonesia. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109(19), pp. 7559-7564, 2012. doi:10.1073/pnas.1200452109.

Shao, K.L., Shan, C., Yan C., Bing, X., Ping, C. & Xu, D.X., The Effect of Pollutional Haze on Pulmonary Function, Journal of Thoracic Disease, 8(1):E41-E56, 2016.

Ebelt S.T., Wilson W.E. & Brauer M., Exposure to Ambient and Nonambient Components of Particulate Matter: A comparison of health effects, Epidemiology, 16, pp. 396-405, 2005.

Prado G.F., Zanetta D.M. & Arbex M.A., Burnt Sugarcane Harvesting: Particulate Matter Exposure and the Effects on Lung Function, Oxidative Stress, and Urinary 1-hydroxypyrene, Sci Total Environ, 437, pp. 200-208, 2012.

Wu S., Deng F. & Wang X., Association of Lung Function in a Panel of Young Healthy Adults with Various Chemical Components of Ambient Fine Particulate Air Pollution in Beijing, China, Atmospheric Environment, 77, pp. 73-84, 2013.

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5614%2Fj.eng.technol.sci.2018.50.6.5


  • There are currently no refbacks.