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Haze causes thousands to fall ill in North

Haze causes thousands to fall ill in North

CHIANG MAI: More than 8,600 residents in northern Thailand have sought treatment for haze-related respiratory illnesses since January, according to the National Health Security Office (NHSO).

weatherpollutiondeath
By Bangkok Post

Monday 8 April 2019, 10:29AM


Toxic smog blankets Lampang as forest fires and farmers burning-off send air quality plummeting in the North, affecting people’s health. Photo: Bangkok Post/ file

Toxic smog blankets Lampang as forest fires and farmers burning-off send air quality plummeting in the North, affecting people’s health. Photo: Bangkok Post/ file

Since February, air concentrations of PM2.5 pollutants in the northern provinces have soared beyond the safe threshold set by the government and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Recently, PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai's Mae Taeng district reached an alarming level of 492.57 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), 10 times the safe limit imposed in Thailand and 20 times the safe limit of the WHO.

In Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, the PM2.5 level has remained above 100µg/m³ metre since March 13.

Yesterday (Apr 7), the PM2.5 average in nine northern provinces was between 47 and 123µg/m³ in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak. The highest level was reported in tambon Jong Kham of Muang district, Mae Hong Son, according to the Pollution Control Department.

The department sets 50µg/m³ as Thailand’s safe level, while WHO's limit is 25µg/m³.

Crop burning during the dry season has been blamed for the poor air quality, but the smog has also been exacerbated by urban and industrial expansions and the rising numbers of vehicles on the roads.

NHSO deputy secretary-general Dr Atthaporn Limpanyalert said the number of people seeking treatment for haze-related respiratory conditions in Chiang Mai and other northern provinces has significantly increased over the last three months.

“The most vulnerable groups are patients with heart, lung and respiratory diseases and allergies. The haze can aggravate these conditions,” he said.

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Dr Atthaporn suggested residents in areas with high air pollution wear the N95 face masks designed to keep out fine particles while outdoors and stay indoors as much as possible.

“PM2.5 is harmful because it's a very fine dust particle, small enough to pass through to the lungs and enter the bloodstream. Protracted exposure can cause respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke,” he said.

Dr Atthaporn and a group of NHSO officials on Friday visited communities in Chiang Mai’s Doi Saket district to observe the problem, distribute N95 masks to residents and educate them on how to wear the masks properly.

Chitipon Sarnpang, mayor of Choeng municipality, said communities in the Choeng Doi area now need around 5,000 masks for their residents and would welcome donations as the smog situation is causing a shortage of N95 masks in the area.

“We have set up a health volunteer group to conduct checks on residents to guard them against potential health hazards associated with the haze,” he said.

“Additional water spraying equipment has also been installed in many spots, but we still need more masks.”

 

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Kurt | 13 April 2019 - 13:52:20

The  human made SMOG ( not HAZE) is getting worse in northern thai provinces. Hope foreign tourists get this info in time and not going there, in order to avoid getting lung-, heart-, and respiratory diseases, and of course not getting a stroke. 

Kurt | 08 April 2019 - 14:44:40

As long as the thai government do thai man made hazardous SMOG call HAZE, and.... do nothing about, just talking,  that long things will never change about it in Thailand.
Keep useless spraying, keep providing non effective masks, and ride it out until next year the same will happen again, year after year. Helpless and hopeless.

Kurt | 08 April 2019 - 11:30:07

Not 'HAZE'!  It is human made  hazardous 'SMOG'! Well, north Thailand this year will feel it in her tourist revenues coffers. Who wants to go a a province were you will damage your health by just being there?  Airlines financial effected too, as sometimes ChiangMai Airport is closed due too dense SMOG.

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