Thailand sends face masks to residents in south to battle haze

Thailand sends face masks to residents in south to battle haze

14 August 2012

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Thailand/Malaysia– KUALA LUMPUR: The Thailand government is sending some 100,000 new masks for citizens in the southern part of the after haze and poor air quality again hit the country this past week.

According to a Public Health Ministry statement, 50,000 masks were handed out in Phuket, Songkhla, Satul, Yala and Narathiwat and the balance would be given out if the need arose.

The haze in Southern Thailand is reportedly being caused by forest fires in Sumatra.

Malaysia has also been hit hard by the haze, especially their northern states close to the Thai border.

Malaysia’s State Health, Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee Chairman Phee Boon Poh told Bernama news agency that moderate API readings of 76 to 96 were recorded up to 11 AM on Sunday compared to only 64 to 94 at 5 PM on Saturday.

“Sumatra has more than 200 hotspots that can catch fire during hot weather. Monsoon winds blow the smoke over the border to Peninsular Malaysia,” he told Bernama here Sunday.

Seberang Jaya recorded reading of 96 with 2 kilometers of visibility, Perai 85 with 6 kilometers visibility and Bayan Lepas 68 with 4 kilometers visibility.

The new warnings over air standards come less than two months after the country was hit by a black cloud of poor air that saw the government tell residents in the country to remain indoors.

The haze has been a major problem facing Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries in recent years. The main culprit of this haze is the slash and burn practice by farmers and peat fires in Indonesia, experts say.

But also in Malaysia, the government is not doing enough to reform farming practices, which Yussif Hassan, an environmental consultant in Selangor told, “is a major issue that is seeing haze become more prominent in recent times.”

He argued that “the Malaysia government must work to end the practices that throw debris and dust into the air, because if we don’t do this soon, it will debilitate the environment and people’s health.”



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