Chiang Mai residents told to stay home and avoid dust

Chiang Mai residents told to stay home and avoid dust

6 March 2007

published by Bangkok Post

Thailand — Chiang Mai residents, especially the elderly, children and people with respiratory problems, have been advised to avoid outdoor activities as the city’s air pollution has reached a dangerous level. The Pollution Control Department yesterday issued an air pollution warning after its air quality gauging stations in downtown Chiang Mai detected a harmful level of small dustparticles.

The level of dust particles smaller than 10 microns was measured at 197.7 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m) in the city yesterday, against an acceptable level of 120 ug/cu m.

”Chiang Mai’s air quality has reached a critical level since last Thursday. We recommend that residents stay home to avoid exposing themselves to small dust particles. All burning activities are also prohibited to reduce the volume of dust released into the air,” said thewarning.

Residents of Lampang province should also protect themselves from the air pollution as the province also has a very high level of small dust particles, which was measured at 207.7 ug/cu myesterday.

Other provinces with high dust levels include Chon Buri (159) and Samut Prakan (121), according to thedepartment.

Dust particles smaller than 10 microns could enter sensitive internal breathing organs and cause respiratoryailments.

”The increasing dust level is a result of widespread forest fires in the northern provinces and in neighbouring countries including Burma, Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia,” said Duangchai Duangthip, a specialist at the Chiang Mai-based northern environmentaloffice.

Ms Duangchai said Thailand is currently in the peak period for forest fires, resulting in rising levels of small dust particles across the country, but Chiang Mai is worst hit because it is surrounded by mountainranges.

The situation has been aggravated by farming activities as many farmers still use the slash-and-burn technique to prepare their land for new crops, said MsDuangchai.

The air pollution crisis in the northern city of 1.66 million people is predicted to continue for at least threemonths.

In response to the problem, the environmental office opened a call centre to update local air quality reports for residents and concerned agencies. Tambon-level emergency response units have also been set up to crack down on burning activities, which could worsen Chiang Mai’s air pollution.

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