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Fire Hot Spots and Air Quality Continues to Plague Northern Thailand

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CHIANG RAI – Hot spots and airborne particulate matter in Chiang Rai and eight other northern provinces have again seen a rise in 2.5 particulate matter. Particulate matter 2.5 (PM2.5), refers to tiny particles or droplets in the air that are two and one half microns or less in width.

Air pollution rise in northern Thailand attributed to 149 controlled forest fires. … Phrae Province was the worst affected area in Thailand on Monday morning with the PM2.5 reaching 102 micrograms per cubic metre and the Air Quality Index (AQI) level of 212, while PM10 hit 132 micrograms.

A fire broke out in a forest reserve in Phrae province, prompting authorities to keep putting it out.

Personnel from varied agencies as well as volunteer villagers extinguished the fire which had occurred since April 19 in the forest reserve straddling Tambon Huay Rai in Den Chai district of Phrae and the capital district of Uttaradit.

The authorities found the fire which claimed damage to 1,500 rai of land very difficult to keep under control due to unyielding access to it. A helicopter dumped water in an airborne effort to help put out the fire and barriers were set up to contain it.

Meanwhile,  the Department of Pollution Control’s Air4thai website show northern provinces in a range of 51 to 205 micrograms per cubic meter with the highest, red-zone hot spot reported in Tambon Chong Kham in the capital district of Mae Hong Son where the particulate matter has remained at health-affecting level.

The Department of Disaster Prevention and Mitigation has declared a total of 287 villages in 39 tambon in 13 districts of five provinces namely Roi Et, Sri Saket, Nakhon Ratchasima, Trat and Chonburi, as drought-hit areas.

Department of Groundwater Resources Director General Kusol Chotirat confirmed that preparations have been made for the inspection into the conditions of groundwater wells, water pumps, waterworks and water quality improvement systems in the face of the current drought.

A total of 132 permanent water distribution spots have been set up to provide clean drinking water while 737 groundwater wells are being excavated within this month in areas which might be in lack of water. Nakharat units and trucks equipped with the water quality improvement system have been deployed to make clean drinking water for villagers in drought-hit areas.

By Tewit Kemtong