CHIANG RAI – Northern Thailand has been blanked by hazardous dust recently leading to the hospitalization of many seniors and children suffering from breathing problems.
The PM 2.5 pollutants in the region have reached extremely hazardous levels for almost a month. The PM 2.5 readings in the north stood at 76 to more than 300 micrograms per cubic meter. The maximum safe threshold is 59 micrograms per cubic meter.
The worst reading of air quality recorded in Chiang Rai was in Mae Sai Friday. The air quality index of the province stood at 300+ which, roughly translated, means “sensitive groups such as children, older people and asthmatics should stay indoors.”
Any AQI over 100 is dangerous to health, according to the Pollution Control Department, which maintains a website with information from around the country.
Much of northern Thailand and as far south as Saraburi lay under a heavy blanket of haze and smoke Monday from hundreds of fires, mostly set on purpose by farmers in Thailand and Myanmar.
In terms of PM2.5 pollution – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – the Pollution Control Department reported at 9am on Monday that the levels in nine northern provinces ranged from 66-266 micrograms per cubic metre of air.
Worst off were Chiang Rai’s Tambon Wiang Phang Kham, Mae Sai district (355AQI) and Wiang in Muang district (315 AQI).
Dr Srinapan Phongpan of Phayao Hospital in Phayao, where PM2.5 was measured at 164, said there was a clear connection between the haze and the rising number of people seeking medical help.
People with heart and coronary disease, respiratory disorders and inflamed skin and eyes should be extra careful and see a doctor if their ailments worsened, she said.