Chiang Mai speeds up easing of smog ahead of Songkran festival

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CHIANG MAI, March 24— Chiang Mai authorities have sped up fighting persistent smog and haze and are closely monitoring burning activities in preparation for the coming Thai New Year ‘Songkran’ festival next month.

Chiang Mai Deputy Governor Adisorn Kamnerdsiri on Sunday said that the average dust particle level has reduced but remained higher than the safety limit.

The level of dust particles was measured at 124 microgrammes per cubic metre at Yupparaj Wittayalai School in the provincial seat and 119 microgrammes per cubic metre at Chiang Mai city hall.

The standard safety limit is 120 microgrammes per cubic metre.

Although the overall smog situation has gradually improved, relevant officials are continuing to keep a close watch on burning activities to prevent worsening smog.

If the situation worsens and becomes a crisis, the deputy governor explained it will threaten the health of local residents as well as the tourism industry which generates major income for the province.

As the Songkran festival is approaching, Mr Adisorn was concerned that if the smog situation persists, some tourists may head to other provinces instead of Chiang Mai.

Authorities have been spraying water mist into the air to increase humidity and remove some dust particles from the air.

Regarding the smog situation in the northern province of Lamphun, dust particles were measured at 125 microgrammes per cubic metre at the provincial administrative office, still slightly over the safety standard.

It is increased yesterday’s measurement of 103 microgrammes per cubic metre, resulting from forest fires detected at ten spots.

The smog has an impact on public health and sometimes the fire spreads to damage orchards. Fire fighters have to watch out to put out the fire as visibility on roads is poor.