But a source from the Royal Forest Department says people should not be overly alarmed by such high figures, as the wildfires had swept through dried, flammable materials on the floors of the forests, and most trees will once again start producing new leaves. The source said the fires had also thinned the hard shells of pods, so when the rains come, seedlings can sprout faster.
Unhealthy levels of smog were again recorded in the nine northern provinces and one province in the Central region, with Chiang Mai once again reaching the dubious honour as the world’s Number One worst polluted city.
Pralong Damrongthai, PCD director-general, said hazardous levels of air pollution were detected in Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phayao, Phrae and Tak provinces, as well as in the Central province of Nakhon Sawan.
SOURCE: The Nation
Thai government desperately needs a ‘clean air act’
by Pratch Rujivanarom
Environment campaigners are urging the government to approve a clean-air act to solve the country’s chronic smog problem and honour citizens’ right to breathe clean air.
Dr Wirun Limsawart, a policy analyst at the Society and Health Institute and member of the Clean Air Network Thailand, said at a press conference there was no more time for debate over the fact of the seasonal smog problem.
“Everyone must work together, addressing all aspects of what has become a serious threat to public health and social justice. Everyone should get involved in devising sustainable solutions.”
The Clean Air Network released a “Clean Air White Paper” as a handbook for use by the general public containing information about PM2.5 particulate matter and related issues.
Wirun said the prolonged and severe PM2.5 pollution afflicting many parts of Thailand during the current dry season, especially Metropolitan Bangkok and the North, had left citizens suffering serious but preventable health impacts.
“The seasonal PM2.5 smog is a very significant problem, not only harming people’s health and wellbeing, but along with the authorities’ ineffectiveness in preventing and controlling the smog, worsening injustice in our society,” he said.
He said the problem became so dire this year partly because of the authorities’ failure to cope, so he called on the government to set out sustainable measures such as enacting a Clean Air Act and establishing a central environmental-protection agency.
“The primary reasons the authorities’ efforts are unsuccessful are the lack of a holistic approach in taking such measures, unclear and inefficient environmental-law enforcement, and the authorities’ bias by which economic development is given higher priority than environmental protection,” Wirun said.
“Unless we solve these structural issues, establish official smog-mitigation measures, improve law enforcement and come out with a Clean Air Act to use as a legal tool to safeguard the right to live in a healthy environment, we will fail to protect public health and Thailand will soon become a sickly society.”
Wirun said poor public understanding of PM2.5 was another major issue that needed to be tackled.
“The nature of the smog problem, the characteristics and health threats of PM2.5, air-quality measurements, the air-quality index and the pollution warning system can be quite confusing.”
SOURCE: The Nation
Study links Northern and Southern smog with rising cases of respiratory disease
A medical report has pointed to serious health threats from air pollution in Thailand’s smog-prone areas, and the country’s far north north and deep south have been found to be hotspots for asthma and other major respiratory diseases.
Higher death rates from three main respiratory diseases – asthma, lung cancer and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease – in the northern region highlighted that health threats from air pollution are real.
The result of the study relates to reports about air pollution and asthma by the World Health Organisation and UN Environment on the occasion of World Asthma Day yesterday, which emphasised that air pollution was the major factor behind the severe asthma situation around the world.
The report, first published in the International Journal for Equity in Health in December 2016, reveals that there was a noticeable clustering of high mortality from respiratory disease in almost every province in the northern region.
The chart also puts focus on the diet of people living in the north-east of Thailand
Even though the report did not confirm a clear connection between the high mortality rate from respiratory diseases in this part of Thailand and the northern seasonal smog, it hinted that the cluster of respiratory diseases in the North may be a reflection of the severity of the air pollution crisis in the area.
The report also found a considerably high death rate from asthma in the southern region, as five provinces in the deep South – Satun, Songkhla, Pattani, Yala and Narathiwat – were depicted in red on the geographical annual cause-specific standardised mortality ratio map.
The northern region and the deep South were two prominent regions affected the most by seasonal smog. The smog in the South, primarily caused by wildfires and deforestation in Indonesia, has largely been resolved in recent years. The North, however, was still continuously suffering from dense smog of very fine PM2.5 particulate matter every dry season.
SOURCE: The Nation
Northern Thailand suffers whilst officials play the blame game
Excerpts from an article at ttrweekly.com
Inflicting immeasurable damage to the health of residents and incalculable losses on the economy and tourism, the northern smog clings to the hilly landscape making a mockery of government assurances that it has the crisis under control.
Provincial and district officials appear to be preoccupied with the task of deciding a date when residents can resume the burning of household rubbish in their gardens. The dates have changed at least three times in the last week when common sense would have dictated the province should stop any outside burning, of anything.
“Chiang Rai stands out on the Thai map for all the wrong reasons. It’s a hot spot for forest fires and agricultural arson raising the air quality index into the red alert zone for almost three months.”
Between Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, the two cities have made their way into the top ten most polluted places on earth many times in the past three months, a problem that is completely avoidable.
“What a tragic downfall from being pitched just a few months ago as an up-coming leisure destination destined to attract high spend incentive groups and leisure travellers keen to explore a cultural experience that is fast disappearing in urban cities around Thailand. The crystal ceiling has caved in on that narrative,,” says Don Ross in the ttryweekly.com article.
The article notes that properties will lose their value, hotels will have to contend with deep red zones in the balance sheets while public health costs will skyrocket. Chiang Rai located at the far north of the map is a cul-de-sac of dense smog with visibility down to 3 km cloaking the province’s dramatic landscapes of forested hills.
In one sweep the tourism industry of six northern provinces is in jeopardy.
Following in the wake of thousands of hot spots and fires deliberately started by agricultural arsonists the blame game plays out. In Laos, the Vientiane Times last week blamed the increase in smog pollution in the Lao capital on neighbouring Thailand and Myanmar. So for all the wrong reasons North Thailand stands out as a smoggy hot spot and for that and nothing else the advisory for would-be travellers is quite simple.
“Don’t waste your holiday savings visiting North Thailand until you see a consistent line up of green columns on the AQI chart day-after-day. Capture the 30-day screenshots of the Air Visual AQI map and you will quickly identify where the blue dots are located that indicate very healthy spots. They are all shining bright in the far south at beach resorts on the Gulf of Thailand and the Andaman coast.”
ORIGINAL STORY: ttrweekly.com
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