Phuket

Air pollution top environmental concern post SuperCheap blaze

PHUKET: Possible air and water pollution from the inferno that devastated the main SuperCheap in Phuket on Wednesday are now the top concern of the Regional Environmental Office 15.

“The microscopic particles in smoke can get into your eyes and respiratory system, where they can cause health problems such as burning eyes, runny nose and illnesses such as bronchitis,” Khanchit Soontrakorn, a specialist from the Regional Environmental Office 15, said.

A machine to measure particulate matter in the air has already been set up, Mr Khanchit said.

“We set up the particulate matter machine, named PM-10, at the Pruksa Ville housing estate because it is located downwind of the SuperCheap complex,” he said

Every 24 hours data will be collected, until the smoke from the SuperCheap fire appears to have dissipated, he explained.

“If the result exceeds health standards, we will announce an air pollution warning,” he said.

The Phuket City Health Office was also in gear yesterday, with about 60 officers visiting homes in the vicinity of the blaze.

“Teams are visiting people and asking them if they are noticing any health effects from the smoke. If officers find anyone who appears to be sick, they are authorized to give them masks and any necessary medication,” said Phuket City Health Office chief Padungkiet Utokasenee.

The other major environmental concern raised after the fire focused on water quality.

Environmental specialists are checking the water sources that would have collected runoff from the battle against the blaze and will be checking them for pollutants.

Results from the air particulate test are expected this afternoon at the soonest, said Kasem Sukwaree, Chief of the Phuket Natural Resources and Environment Office.

— Saran Mitrarat

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