Thai, myanmar fires cause haze over north

Thai, myanmar fires cause haze over north

19 March 2017

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Thailand / Myanmar — The Pollution Control Department will seek cooperation from Myanmar to solve haze caused by bushfires in northern provinces.

Department chief Jatuporn Buruspat said Saturday Thailand cannot solve the haze problem alone because parts of the affected forest areas are in Myanmar. He said he is preparing to send a letter to Myanmar’s environment ministry seeking “cooperation” to cope with the bushfires.

The haze situation turned bad in many parts of Mae Hong Son. In some areas, villagers are exposed to immediate health risks, according to the Meteorology Department.

Mr Jatuporn said officials plan to enforce a strict law in Mae Hong Son to better prevent bushfires.

At present officials are struggling to deal with forest fires in many areas.

Haze caused by fires has covered many parts of Mae Hong Son, reducing visibility on roads and causing levels of harmful dust to surge beyond a safe limit.

The level of the dust, known as particulate matter (PM10), was recorded Saturday at 177 microgrammes per cubic metre, against the limit of 120, in tambon Chong Kham in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district.

A similar situation was also reported in Lampang where PM10 reached the dangerous level of 152 in tambon Ban Dong in Mae Mo district.

PM10, known for its diameter of 10 micrometres or less, is a serious health risk as the tiny particles can easily lodge in the lungs.

The steep terrain is making it difficult for firefighters to access deep into forests in mountainous areas, said Mr Jatuporn, adding that helicopters are needed to support their mission.

Villagers said the forest near a section of Road No 108 in Huai Luang village in Mae Hong Son’s Mae Sariang district caught fire Saturday, damaging many trees which fell on to the road, making travel difficult.

“The fire was seen along the route,” said one villager, referring to a section of the road between Ma La Noi and Khun Yuam districts.

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