CHIANGRAI – The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has issued air quality alerts in the North and warned residents about health risks.
The PCD warned that recent tests found the levels of particulate matter smaller than 10 microns (PM10) in the northern region of Thailand to have exceeded the safety level of 120 micrograms per cubic meter.
Chiang Rai, one of the affected provinces, recently launched a public campaign to combat haze pollution. The campaign was backed by over 1,000 supporters from the private and public sectors.
Chiang Rai Governor Pongsak Wangsamer said the annual haze crisis between February and April has had a negative impact on the tourism, transport and economic sectors of nine northern provinces, which include Phayao, Phrae, Nan and Chiang Rai. In 2012, the PM10 level in Chiang Rai province exceeded the safety standard for 55 consecutive days, reaching as high as 470.8 micrograms per cubic meter.
In a bid to ease the haze problem in the region, the PCD and Chiang Rai authorities urged relevant state agencies to strictly enforce a ban on all burning activities in haze-prone provinces.
The royal rainmaking operation has commenced since March 2 in the Northern part of Thailand to at help ease drought, forest fire and haze crisis. The operation will also be carried out in all other regions to increase water level in major dams throughout the country.
The artificial-rainmaking will continue until October with a total of 34 aircraft from the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives and the Royal Thai Air force to be used in the operation.
Meanwhile, the drought situation in the North has become more severe, particularly in Lamphun Province where 8 districts have been declared disaster zones.
At the same time, the haze situation in Chiang Rai Province continued to worsen, resulting in poor visibility in the area. The latest level of dust particles in the province was recorded at 126 micrograms per cubic meter, which exceeds the standard level of 120.