PHOTO: Burn-off of plantation land and forest fires continue to blanket the north in smoke – Thailand Discovery
For the fourth consecutive day Chiang Mai ranks as the world’s most air-polluted city, with an air quality index (AQI) score of 282 this morning on airvisual.com.
Mae Hong Son meanwhile continued to battle multiple forest fires, and Lampang saw it Thammasat University campus suspended classes and office work until March 18 due to the severe haze. Bangkok Airways has also suspended its daily flights into Mae Hong Son airport from Chiang Mai but will review the situation over the weekend.
The Pollution Control Department reports that all nine northern provinces this morning had unsafe levels of PM2.5 dust particulates.
The Thai safety limit for PM2.5 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre or an AQI of 100. This morning’s measurement of 282 is listed as ‘unhealthy’ by the internationally recognized website.
In Mae Hong Son, where satellite image reports had cited more than 100 hot spots for several consecutive days, the latest report found 104 hot spots in the province – with the largest number clustered in Pai district at 43 hot spots followed by Pang Mapha district at 33 hot spots, which is a slight drop from the previous day’s 119 hot spots.
The satellite image report as of 2.18am cited 561 hot spots in nine northern provinces – Mae Hong Son (104), Chiang Mai (137), Chiang Rai (36), Nan (43), Phayao (94), Phrae (33), Lampang (61), Lamphun (28) and Tak (25).
A Thai friend of The Thaiger sent this video to us today….
The haze has inundated the region with poor visibility. It has now ravaged Mae Hong Son, especially its Doi Kongmu area, for two weeks and caused officials to dispatch fire engines to spray water throughout the city.
State officials and volunteers continue daily to battle forest fires, most of which have reportedly stemmed from villagers lighting fires in the forests. About 60% of the forest fires have occurred in beyond-reach steep mountainous areas and so continue to bellow smoke and strengthen the haze.
In Lampang, the Thammasat University campus suspended classes and stopped office work for until March 18 as a precaution to ensure students and staff can protect their health.
The university also suspended the use of outdoor fields and its stadium, said the deputy rector for litigation and administration, Professor Pairoj Kampusiri. The university also urged students and staff to wear effective face masks during this period.
SOURCE: The Nation
Government claims they’re serious about northern air pollution
Thailand’s northern provinces, particularly Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, suffer mightily during the annual plantation burning season, infamously known as “smoky season,” when farmers there and in neighbouring Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia burn their fields in preparation for the next harvest. The season lasts from January to April, and during that time Chiang Mai often rates as having the worst air quality in the world. But now the government says it’s taking air pollution seriously and aims to clean up the North.
Chiang Mai’s air quality problems have been a consistent issue, since the northern Thai city was declared ‘most polluted city in the world’ on March 10, according AirVisual.com. The city has ‘won’ the accolade on more than 10 days this year. Adding to the problem, in March and April this year were the forest fires challenging local authorities in the mountains around the city.
Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat expressed gratitude to the Chiang Mai Breath Council for its concern on smog in the North and gave assurances the government is earnest about solving the problem. Responding to the council’s demand for successful resolution she said the council makes a huge contribution by monitoring air pollution for the sake of public health.
“The government has tried to solve the problem and assigned local authorities to implement relevant measures. It is never distracted from the effort, despite the coronavirus pandemic.”
“The government is grateful for the Chiang Mai Breath Council’s campaigns for clean air. However, the problem cannot be solved by a single organisation. All parties must join forces. I believe that solutions will improve from now on.”
The government spokeswoman also said that Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon would visit Chiang Mai province today to follow up on smog solutions.
“The government understands that it may not be impossible for provincial and regional parties to solve the issue by themselves. We believe that if all parties join hands and watch out for wildfires, which are at the root of the problem and cause of the fine dust, air pollution will be relieved eventually.”Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
The end of the annual crop-burning season – Chiang Mai gets some fresh air
As the annual crop season in north Thailand comes to an end the only good side-effect of the whole Covid-19 outbreak is a drop in the number of fires and plantation burning activity in the past few months.
As a result, Chiang Mai’s Air Quality has experienced significant improvements, according to aqicn.org.
The website data shows that Chiang Mai air quality index reported PM2.5 levels of less than 100 particles per cubic metre for more than two weeks. 50 AQI is the general safety standard in Thailand (and 25 for the World Health Organisation upper limit of safe air quality. On some days in the middle of the highest readings the AQI reached about 500!
The AQI is a standard that indicates the level of air pollution.
• Level 0-50 means good air quality
• 51-100 means moderate quality
• 101-105 will affect sensitive groups
• 151-200 is slightly harmful to health
• 201-300 is highly harmful
• 301-500 means extremely dangerous
For several days in the past two weeks, Chiang Mai’s air quality index has seen a decrease of more 50%, compared to the AQI levels at the same time in 2019. For two days in a row the northern city scored dubious distinction of having the world’s worst air quality.
2019 – Air Quality Index of 152 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 57
2019 – Air Quality Index of 158 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 56
2019 – Air Quality Index of 129 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 69
Smog, smoke and haze have been a widespread public health problem in North & Central Thailand for over a decade. It typically occurs from January to April, but peaks in March as very dry conditions intensify the forest fires. It’s exacerbated by farmers who burn plantation waste to clear land for the next harvest season.
SOURCE: Samui Times
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Bangkok, before and after. A birds-eye view.
Content creator Manit Monsur, a certified drone pilot, has taken to the skies of Bangkok giving us a unique insight into the sights, sounds and daily life of the Big Mango, before and now. Travel restrictions and business closures have severely impacted on the city’s ability to function. One of the biggest changes, he notes, is the clear skies above one of Asia’s busiest cities.
“Enjoy the empty Bangkok. Despite of the impact on the economy and lifestyle, Covid-19 is really the only thing that is helping reduce the pollution caused by big cities like Bangkok. Now that Bangkok and other big cities in the world sleeps, nature can finally recover from all the damage we human have made over the past hundreds and thousands of years.”
In his second video in the series “Bangkok Lockdown” Manit checks out more of the street life during the current city ‘lockdown’.
“So this week I went out again and shot more footages of the Central Bangkok. I went to Siam Paragon and Chong Nonsi Bridge this time. Watch the vlog for more information and enjoy the empty Bangkok. Despite of the impact on the economy and lifestyle, Covid-19 is really the only thing that is helping reduce the pollution caused by big cities like Bangkok.”Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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