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Air Pollution

Indonesia’s forest fires causing air pollution in southern Thailand

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Indonesia’s forest fires causing air pollution in southern Thailand | The Thaiger

Residents in Thailand’s southern provinces of Songkhla and Satun are being warned to protect their health by wearing face masks or staying indoors as the two provinces are blanketed with smoke from forest fires on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island.

The 16th regional environment office reports that dust particles of less than 2.5 microns, were measured at 55 microns/cubic metre during the past 24 hours in Hat Yai district of Songkhla. This may cause health problems such as coughing, breathing difficulties and eye irritation.

The office said that the smoke problem is worse in Hat Yai because the town is located in a basin, which limits air circulation.

Meanwhile, the southern meteorological centre reported more hot spots on Sumatra Island in the past few days, worsening the haze problem.

The situation is similar to last summer’s burnoffs of plantations, mostly in Myanmar, which caused heavy smoke haze and air pollution around northern Thailand, including Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

Indonesia's forest fires causing air pollution in southern Thailand | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: http://aqicn.org/map/thailand/

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Air Pollution

Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels | The Thaiger

PHOTOS: Charoon Thongnual – The Nation

Hat Yai, the main city in Songkhla, has been among the worst hit by the smog engulfing parts of southern Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore and the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Borneo.

The business district of Hat Yai has been hard hit with PM2.5 particles exceeding the safety standards of 50 (set by the World Health Organisation). But some rain yesterday afternoon provided a short respite. This morning it is up to 158 again.

Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels | News by The Thaiger

Two other areas facing similarly poor air quality are Yala and Satun provinces, according to Tananchai Wansuk, the chief of the area’s environment office.

“The smog from the Indonesian island of Sumatra is expected to cloud southern Thailand for at least the next three days.”

Meanwhile, measures have been put in place to protect public health in southern Krabi province amid a seasonal recurrence of haze drifting from Indonesia, the chief of the provincial health office said yesterday.

Dr Aphichai Limanont said hospitals of all sizes had been instructed to communicate information about coping with the smog, with those at most risk, such as children, the elderly, and people with chronic respiratory problems are being warned to be especially vigilant.

Aphichai acknowledged that Krabi had witnessed dense smog every year recently, but said the authorities had been able to cope.

The southern Thai provinces struggle perennially with the smoke from forest fires burning on Indonesia’s Sumatra Island and Kalimantan and it reappeared this week in Yala and Songkhla. Malaysia and Singapore have been suffering for several weeks with government environmental officials pointing fingers and trading insults.

Meanwhile, Indonesia’s President Jokowi has acknowledged the problem while 30,000 Indonesian army, firefighters and emergency responders are in the fire zones battling the intentionally-lit plantation fires.

SOURCE: The Nation

Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels | News by The Thaiger Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels | News by The Thaiger Southern Thailand smog well above safe levels | News by The Thaiger

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Air Pollution

Indonesia’s President Jokowi says he is “embarrassed” by fires

The Thaiger

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Indonesia’s President Jokowi says he is “embarrassed” by fires | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Singapore, days before the 2019 Grand Prix – DL

Dozens of people have now been arrested over their alleged involvement in Indonesia’s massive forest fires. Thousands of hectares of rain forest and plantations have been burned, with the smoke and haze drifting in neighbouring Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand.

Dedi Prasetyo, Indonesia’s National Police spokesman has confirmed 185 people now been arrested across six provinces hit by the intentionally-lit fires and four corporations were under investigation.

“99% of the forest and land fires occurred due to human factors.”

More than 328,000 hectares of land have been burned so far, mostly in Sumatra island, hundreds of residents evacuated, and more than 9,000 army and government personnel deployed to battle the fires.

Fires, and and side-effect of smoke haze and air pollution, are a persistent problem during the summer months caused by burn-offs to clear the land, the same practice that led to fires in the Brazilian Amazon earlier this year.

The Singapore and Malaysian governments have expressed their official concerns, and insults, as the two nations have choked in a dense haze for the past week as a result of the fires. More than 600 schools have closed in Malaysia because of the air pollution affecting hundreds of thousands of students, according to the Straits Times.

Schools in Sumatra and Borneo islands have also shut, with air quality considered “hazardous” to health in several areas, although the Indonesian government is playing down the effects of the burn-offs.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo says that 52 planes were conducting water bombing operations against the forest fires. But the Indonesian leader stresses that the best way to stop the haze is “prevention before the incident” and vows to crack down on “arsonists” behind the fires.

In Pelalawan, an Indonesian regency adjacent to Singapore across the Malacca Strait, air pollution exceeded 300 micrograms per cubic metre this week, levels considered hazardous on the Air Quality Index (AQI). Nearby in Jambi province, the AQI measured a reading of 407, while Sampit on Borneo Island reached an astonishing 427 yesterday.

AQI measures a variety of pollutants to gauge air quality, which is typically defined by the concentration of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, per cubic metre.

AQI measures a variety of pollutants to gauge air quality, which is typically defined by the concentration of fine particulate matter, or PM2.5, per cubic metre.

Last month, President Jokowi said he felt felt “embarrassed” by the fires, acknowledging the smoke’s effects on Singapore and Malaysia.

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Air Pollution

Smoke from Indonesian illegal plantation burn-offs causing acute problems for south east Asian neighbours

The Thaiger

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Smoke from Indonesian illegal plantation burn-offs causing acute problems for south east Asian neighbours | The Thaiger

PHOTO: Visibility down to less than a kilometre at KL airport yesterday

Flights cancelled, schools closed and regional environmental ministers trading insults. The minister’s fiddle whilst Indonesian islands burn.

Parts of Indonesia are now opening temporary clinics to treat thousands of people suffering from acute respiratory illnesses in the smoke haze stricken regions around Sumatra island as authorities stepped up efforts to douse forest and peatland fires.

Dangerous smoke from illegal burning to clear land for palm oil and paper plantations is prompting school closures and disrupting travel in the region. But the air quality in Singapore, which slipped to unhealthy levels over the weekend, is now forecast to improve in the next few days.

The fires, an annual burn-off of plantations to prepare for the new year crops, is causing major disruptions and a health hazard for other south east asian countries in the wake of the smoke, including Malaysia, Singapore and southern Thailand.

More than 300 schools in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor were closed on the weekend after the Air Pollutant Index hit very unhealthy levels. (Johor’s weekend is Friday and Saturday with Sunday being a normal work day.)

Authorities have distributed perfunctory face masks to people in Riau, Jambi, South Sumatra and Kalimantan as the ash and smoke from more than 2,500 hotspots blanket the region. Authorities now say they have deployed more than 9,000 personnel, with the help of 42 helicopters, to fight the fires.

The total number of hotspots in Indonesia fell to 2,583 on Monday from 2,862 on Sunday, with the Indonesian part of the Borneo island alone accounting for almost 1,200 forest fires. The hotspots have affected 328,724 hectares of forest and farm land this year, data from the National Disaster Mitigation Agency show. The agency stands ready to undertake cloud-seeding to douse the fire, it said.

Kuching and Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia, Hanoi and Jakarta were among the world’s top 10 cities with the poorest air quality, according to IQAir AirVisual pollution data yesterday. The air quality index in Kuching in haze-hit Sarawak state was 241 yesterday, a level well in excess of the WHO upper level of 50.

In KL yesterday the levels reached 130.

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