Excessive haze smothers Thai North


CHIANG MAI, March 21 – Excessive haze pollution has smothered Thailand’s northern region, disrupting local transport, with Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son provinces recording the highest level of dust particles.

Excessive smog was clearly observed in Chiang Rai province this morning especially along the Mekong River border between Thailand and neighbouring Lao and Myanmar. Smog has affected river transport as well as reducing highway visibility to less than 100 metres. Many boat operators have been forced to wait until the smog lifts to begin service.

Dust particle levels smaller than 10 microns measured at the Mae Sai District Public Health Office in Chiang Rai was recorded at 244 microgrammes per cubic metre (mg/pcm) of atmosphere, while at Chiang Rai Natural Resources and Environment Office measured at 235 mg/pcm.

Meanwhile, dust particles in Lampang province were recorded at between 132-144 mg/pcm after earlier falling below 120 mg/pcm. Lampang’s Mae Moh district appears to have the highest level of dust particles at 144 mg/pcm, while the provincial seat recorded 141 mg/pcm.

Such poor air quality has started to affect the health of those who are active outdoors.

Thick haze has also smothered the northern resort town of Chiang Mai, prompting official concerned to spray water in the air to reduce the dust particle levels. Chiang Mai residents have also put on masks to prevent respiratory illnesses.

As of now, Chiang Mai’s Disease Prevention and Control Region 10 reports that haze has affected health of up to 60,000 residents of eight upper northern provinces, where dust particle levels have already exceeded the safety level.

Mae Hong Son province recorded highest level of pollution at 257 mg/pcm, followed by Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district at 244 mg/pcm. Haze from illegal burning has blanketed the sky, while the sun is visible to the bare eyes and appears as a red disk.