Haze-related illnesses hit thousands in Nan province

Haze-related illnesses hit thousands in Nan province

30 March 2013

published by www.bangkokpost.com

Thailand — More than 8,000 Nan residents have sought treatment for haze-related respiratory illnesses this month, local public health authorities said yesterday.

Where there’s smoke
Patients cover their noses and mouths while waiting for medical treatment in Nan Hospital yesterday. More than 8,000 people have turned up at the hospital with smoke-related complaints in less than amonth as the haze has overwhelmed Nan province. RARINTHORN PETCHAROEN

The situation is expected to worsen next month as temperatures peak.

The level of PM10 – dust particles smaller than 10 microns – was measured at 187 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/cu m) yesterday, exceeding the accepted safe level of 120 ug/cu m.

Despite the government’s strict ban on burning activities, which is the main source of PM10 in the region, air quality in many provinces has still exceeded safe levels this dry season.

Pongthep Wongwatcharapaiboon, deputy director of Nan Hospital, said the most vulnerable groups were patients with heart, lung, and respiratory diseases or allergies. The haze often aggravated their conditions, he said.

Dr Pongthep said haze has also reduced visibility on roads, increasing the risk of road accidents.

In neighbouring Phayao province, Ubonwan Khempet, mayor of tambon Wiang Lor in Chun district, said PM10 readings were 176-200 ug/cu m over the past three days.

Village health volunteers were conducting checks for residents to guard them from potential health hazards associated with the haze, she said.

Additional water spraying equipment would also be installed to minimise air pollution, she added.

In Tak province, almost 300 forest fires were recorded this month.

Provincial governor Suriya Prasartbandit said the number of forest fires was likely to increase next month during the peak of the hot season.

The bushfires would cause heavy smoke, adding to the province’s haze problem, Mr Suriya said.

The governor has enlisted local administrators to help tackle the problem.

“About 600 rai of forest has been damaged by bushfires this year. Most of these fires were caused by animal poachers and farmers preparing their land for cultivation,” Mr Suriya said.

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