Chiang Mai and Mae Sot district in Tak province continued to suffer from severe air pollution caused by seasonal smog, as particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in these two areas rose beyond safe levels, posing serious health threats to local people.
The air quality report of the Pollution Control Department (PCD) showed that most areas in the northern region saw improved air quality as of Friday, with the exception of Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. PM2.5 levels in both places continued to aggravate and as of Friday morning PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai peaked at 124 micrograms per cubic metre of air while it was 204mcg in Mae Sot.
In terms of PM2.5 daily average levels, Mae Sot ranked the highest in the country at 154.85mcg, followed by Chiang Mai at 103.45mcg.
Thailand’s safety standard for PM2.5 is set at 50mcg, though the World Health Organisation recommends only 25mcg.
PCD data showed that Chiang Mai has faced harmful levels of air pollution for five days in a row, while Mae Sot has suffered from adverse PM2.5 levels every day since February 28.
Long-term exposure to high PM2.5 levels can lead to many fatal diseases such as lung cancer, stroke and heart disease, and also contribute to higher rate of premature deaths, according to health experts.
In view of the dangerous PM2.5 levels in the North, the Environmental Science Research Centre (ESRC) at the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Science has launched the Better Breathing Campaign from this week by distributing free N95 face masks that can filter PM2.5.
The ESRC said many people had shown interest in the campaign and 3,000 face masks had been distributed so far.
People can get free N95 face masks at the ESRC on the seventh floor of the 30th anniversary building of the Chiang Mai University Faculty of Science from next Wednesday.
The ESRU is also seeking public donations to buy more N95 face masks for this campaign.