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Air Pollution

Thailand’s north continues to choke under record smoke levels

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Thailand’s north continues to choke under record smoke levels | The Thaiger

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.

Thailand's north continues to choke under record smoke levels | News by The Thaiger

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….

https://web.facebook.com/thethaigernews/videos/2462678387293208/

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.

Thailand's north continues to choke under record smoke levels | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation



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Air Pollution

Thai government desperately needs a ‘clean air act’

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thai government desperately needs a ‘clean air act’ | The Thaiger

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.

Thai government desperately needs a 'clean air act' | News by The Thaiger

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

Thai government desperately needs a 'clean air act' | News by The Thaiger

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Air Pollution

Study links Northern and Southern smog with rising cases of respiratory disease

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Study links Northern and Southern smog with rising cases of respiratory disease | The Thaiger

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.

Study links Northern and Southern smog with rising cases of respiratory disease | News by The Thaiger

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

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Air Pollution

Northern Thailand suffers whilst officials play the blame game

The Thaiger

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Northern Thailand suffers whilst officials play the blame game | The Thaiger

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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