Smoke out the polluters

I WOULD like to highlight the problem of dust pollution caused by factories and palm oil mills in this country.

It is a problem faced by tens of thousands of Malaysians every day, and has the potential to cause serious health problems.

A recent article in a local daily reported on dust pollution suffered by the residents of Chaah, Johor, where a palm oil mill has been causing black dust to descend on the town for close to 20 years now.

It is high time the authorities act on such pollution by industries.

Similarly, my hometown of Nibong Tebal, Penang, has been under constant assault for many years from factories and palm oil mills. The boilers in these mills spew out smoke and most crucially black dust into our houses and our lungs.

Just like the residents of Chaah, the people of Nibong Tebal have faced dust and air pollution for many years. Much of this airborne “dust fallout” is being inhaled by us, our children and parents, every day.

“Particulate matter is especially harmful to people with lung diseases such as asthma, chronic bronchitis, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and emphysema,” the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States warns on its website.

“Other people who are sensitive to particulate matter exposure are children, the elderly and people with heart disease.”

I understand there are clear environmental guidelines on the emission of smoke and dust. If so, can the Department of Environment please act for the sake of the countless numbers of Malaysians suffering from the invisible enemy, that is, dust pollution.

We hear of Malaysians complaining about the haze every year. We complain about the lack of urgency shown by Indonesia. What about ourselves then?

We can do our part by cutting down on pollution, through strict enforcement of existing regulations.

Environmental issues are not just about saving the wildlife and the forests. We have to act to save us humans, too.

By MOHSIN ABDULLAH, Subang Jaya, Selangor