Chiang Mai for the fourth consecutive day ranked the world’s most air-polluted city, with an air quality index (AQI) score of 250 at 8.20am and 3.30 pm up to 309 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 from March 15-18 due to the severe haze.
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) reported that all nine northern provinces at 9am had unsafe levels of PM2.5 dust particulates (particles no larger than 2.5 micrometres in diameter, ranging from 76 to 203 micrograms per cubic metre of air. PM2.5
The Thai safety limit for PM2.5 is 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air while the safety limit for AQI is 100.
The areas with unsafe PM2.5 levels included the tambons of Wiang Phang Kham (203mcg with a 312 AQI) in Mae Sai district; Ban Klang (140mcg with a 250 AQI) in Lamphun’s Muang district; Jong Kham (97mcg with a 172 AQI) in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district; Nai Wiang (177mcg with a 287 AQI) in Nan’s Muang district and Huai Kon (160mcg with a 283 AQI) in Chalem Phra Kiat district; Na Chak (126mcg with a 236 AQI) in Phrae’s Muang district; Ban Tom (137mcg with a 247 AQI) in Phayao’s Muang district; and Mae Pa (76mcg with a 164 AQI).
Unsafe levels were also experienced in tambons Chang Pheuk in Chiang Mai (150mcg with a 260 AQI), Suthep (85mcg with a 188 AQI) and Sri Phum (136mcg with a 246 AQI) in Muang district and Chang Kherng (87mcg with a 193 AQI) in Mae Chaem district. Also, in tambons Phra Baht (146mcg with a 256 AQI) in Lampang’s Muang district as well as Sop Pad (110mcg with a 220 AQI), Ban Dong (113mcg with a 231 AQI), Mae Mo (114 mcg with a 234 AQI) in Mae Mo district.
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).
The haze 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 per cent 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 March 15-18 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 face masks during this period.