North chokes from dense smog

North chokes from dense smog

25 February 2009

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Thailand — A thick haze and dense micro dust particles from bush fires blanketing northern provinces have raised fears air quality in the North is poised to reach danger levels.

On Wednesday, the level of dust particles, technically called particulate matter (PM-10), which is a complex mixture of organic and inorganic substances, in several upper northern provinces was found to be beyond an acceptable limit.

It was measured at 201 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m) in Lampang against a health standard of 120 ug/cu m. The province was the worst hit.

The level of PM-10 in Chiang Mai was measured at 129 ug/cu m. In Chiang Rai it was 143 ug/cu m, in Phayao 141 ug/cu m and in Lamphun 137 ug/cu m.

Public health authorities in Chiang Mai and Lampang Wednesday warned residents to avoid outdoor exercises as thick smoke and dust particles might cause them to suffer respiratory problems.

The Lampang municipality ordered fire trucks to spray water onto public parks and main roads to reduce the amount of dust.

From Feb 1 to 23, a total of 3,169 people in Lampang had sought treatment for respiratory problems. Most patients were children and the elderly, according to health officials.

Somchai Ruengsitthinaruparb, director of the artificial rain centre for the upper north, said the haze situation in the North was almost reaching a crisis because of heavy dust in numerous areas.

His Majesty the King has expressed concern over smoke haze and drought in the North and asked the centre to urgently solve the problem.

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