After brief respite, haze again covers North

After brief respite, haze again covers North

26 March 2007

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Thailand — After only a few days of improved weather, smog and dust-particlelevels rose severely in Chiang Mai again on Sunday and Monday, while emergencymeasures imposed in Mae Hong Son province remained in place.

Satellite photos showed that thick smoke caused by forest fires and theburning of farmland in Burma was being blown into northern provinces of Thailand

The air quality in Mae Hong Son, Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai provinces has nowdeteriorated and reached a level that would affect people’s health, said DeputyPrime Minister and Social Development and Human Security Minister PaiboonWattanasiritham.

Vichai Thaveepvoradet, mayor of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai municipality, said the hazehas driven away tourists and put residents at risk of respiratory ailments.

Apiwat Khunarak, a Chiang Mai environment official, blamed the worsening airquality on the burning of rubbish and weeds by local residents.

Air quality measurements at a school in Chiang Mai stood as high as 158microgrammes per cubic metre (MPCM) Sunday, higher than the acceptable level of120 MPCM.

Concerns over the sharp increase in dust-particle levels have forced provincialofficials to spray water on streets to reduce dust.

More than 50 persons have been apprehended in the past month on charges ofillegal outdoor burning.

Artificial rain-making crews continued to fly throughout the region to createartificial rain in a bid to reduce air pollution in the upper North.

In Chiang Rai, the level of dust particles has increased from 89 ug/cu m to 174ug/cu m, while the level of dust particles in Chiang Mai has jumped to 171 ug/cum from 115 ug/cu m. Mr Paiboon said his centre would call a meeting with theInterior Ministry to work out measures to control the burning of farmland.

North of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son governor Direk Konklieb said emergencymeasures imposed in all seven districts remained in force because of heavy smogcovering the areas.

He said the fine-dust particles measurements stood as high as 246 MPCM, whichwas very dangerous, and if the visibility remained poor it could be a threat toairlines.

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