Northern haze continues to pose health problems

Northern haze continues to pose health problems

05 March 2012

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Thailand — Although the levels of smaller than 10-micron dust particles in Chiang Rai have fallen slightly, suspended particulate matter in this northern province remains at a critical level and can acutely impact people’s health.

Chiang Rai has recorded the highest level of dust particles in the northern region. The dust particle level in Mae Sai district remains at 327 microgrammes per cubic metre, exceeding safety standards set at 120 microgrammes per cubic meter, while visibility has dropped to only 300-500 metres.

Chiang Rai Governor Thanin Supasaen ordered local agencies to use the province’s 50 fire engines to spray water and to embark on a new community education campaign to urge local residents to refrain from outdoor burnings.

HM the King was worried about haze, which has continued to blanket the northern provinces with dust particle levels exceeding safety standards, said Song Klinprathum, chief of the Northern Royal Rainmaking Center on Sunday.

Song said the King was concerned about the ongoing haze pollution problem in the North of Thailand, adding that Distorn Vajarodaya, chairman of Rajaprajanugroh Foundation, will visit the region to observe and advise on artificial rain-making operations and related techniques.

The operation to tackle and reduce the haze, which has affected the health of local residents, began on February 27 by inducing moisture in the atmosphere to fall as precipitation, clearing the skies.

Three aircraft started the artificial rain-making operation on February 27 over Chiang Mai’s provincial seat, the first targeted location to alleviate haze and particulate dust particles that are higher that safety standard.

Although the air quality in the northern region gradually improved on Sunday after the rain-making operation, dust particles remain higher than the safe limits.

The situation in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district remains critical, with dust particles in the district on Sunday registering the highest levels in the region.

Meanwhile, dust particles in the neighbouring province of Chiang Mai reduced to 89 microgrammes per cubic metre, below the safe standard of 120 microgrammes per cubic metre.

In Tak, haze and smog continued to envelop the province, particularly in the Thai-Burmese border area.

Haze in Chiang Rai continues unabated with local authorities mobilising fire engines to sprinkle water to ease the haze problem.

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