Air pollution is threatening public health in provinces in the North and Northeast, with Phrae the worst affected on Monday.
PM2.5 – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – reached 102 micrograms per cubic metre of air in Phrae Monday morning and the Air Quality Index (AQI) level was 212, while PM10 hit 132 micrograms, according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD).
The safe limits set in Thailand are 100 for AQI, 50 micrograms for PM2.5 and 100 micrograms for PM10.
CR: Facebook Climate Change Data Centre
The Climate Change Data Centre said there were currently more fires burning in the North but some of them were controlled burns – deliberately lit to safeguard forests prone to wildfires.
That had contributed to the excessive PM2.5 levels over several consecutive days, it said.
The 149 fire “hotspots” in the North from February 4-10 put Thailand second only to Cambodia (with 159 hotspots) among five Southeast Asian countries being monitored. Laos had 62, Vietnam 61 and Myanmar 18.
Air pollution in Lampang’s Mae Mo district was classified as “affecting health” with several stations citing 81-90 micrograms of PM2.5 and AQI at 177-203.
Chiang Mai’s Saraphi and Hot districts, Lamphun and Phrae’s Long and Rong Kwang districts fell into the same category.
People are advised to remain indoors if possible and those in vulnerable groups based on age, chronic ailments or pregnancy to be extra careful of their health.
In the Northeast, the PCD reported Khon Kaen had an AQI level of 197, PM2.5 at 89 micrograms and PM10 at 145 micrograms on Monday morning, while in Muang Loei’s AQI was 167 and PM2.5 77 micrograms.
Bangkok and five neighbouring provinces continues to enjoy a brief respite from the haze, though air pollution was predicted to increase on Tuesday while remaining within the safe range.