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Phayao and other Northern provinces choke as air quality worsens

Phayao provincial governor Narongsak Osotthanakorn has issued an urgent letter instructing disaster prevention and mitigation officials to ask industrial factories, whose activities generate PM2.5 dust, to suspend work for one or two days or until the situation returns to normal.

This northern province has suffered a dangerous level of PM2.5– airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – for several days as well as forest fires.

Phayao and other Northern provinces choke as air quality worsens

Narongsak also issued an urgent letter to Phayao police, urging strict prosecution of anyone found to be violating the outdoor burning ban that runs through April 15. 

A Pollution Control Department (PCD)’s air quality station in Tambon Ban Tom of Phayao’s Muang district cited a dangerously high PM2.5 level of 67 micrograms per cubic metre of air as of 9am on Tuesday, well beyond the Thai safe limit of 50mcg. A greyish-white smog covered Phayao, prompting residents to wear face masks and glasses to prevent eye irritation when going out.

Phayao also continued to battle multiple forest fires that are contributing to the haze issue. Dok Kham Tai district chief Thewa Panyaboon had his deputy Kasidir Inpan lead 40 forest fire fighters and related officials to extinguish a large blaze in Huai Ngu Leum and another in Huai Ta Sae in Tambon San Khong, both thought to have been started by poachers. They managed to put out the flames but not before they damaged 20 rai of forestland.

Phayao and other Northern provinces choke as air quality worsens

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai Governor Supachai Iamsuwan, who is under attack for his administration’s perceived failure to ease the smog situation, has invited related parties to discuss how best to tackle the haze at the Chiang Mai Forum, scheduled to be held at the International Exhibition and Convention Centre in Muang district from 3pm on Tuesday. The governor has faced an online campaign at Change.org petitioning for him to be removed from office over his “ineffectiveness in tackling the haze” after Chiang Mai’s Air Quality Index (AQI) topped 400 on both Saturday and Sunday, landing Chiang Mai the unenviable title of planet's worst air pollution city for days. As of 11am on Tuesday, more than 35,000 names had been added and the target was raised to 50,000.

Chiang Mai continued to top Airvisual.com’s “World AQI Ranging” at 11am on Tuesday with an AQI of 214 (PM2.5 level of 164mcg) followed by Dhaka, Bangladesh, with an AQI of 203 (PM2.5 at 152.3mcg) and Lahore , Pakistan, with an AQI of 200 (PM2.5 at 149.6 mcg).

In the meantime, the PCD reported at 9am on Tuesday that PM2.5 levels in the past 24 hours in nine northern provinces had improved from the previous day and now ranged from 34-199 micrograms per cubic metre of air. The areas that still had dangerous levels of PM2.5 dust included Chiang Rai's Tambon Wiang Phang Kham (199 mcg) in Mae Sai district and Tambon Wiang (110 mcg) in Muang district ; Tambon Jongkham (133 mcg) in Muang Mae Hong Son; Chiang Mai’s Tambon Chang Pheuk (105 mcg), Tambon Sri Phum (75), and Tambon Suthep (82 mcg) in Muang district as well as Tambon Chang Kerng (56 mcg) in Mae Chaem district; Tambon Ban Klang (96 mcg) in Muang Lamphun; Nan's Tambon Nai Wiang (52mcg) in Muang district and Tambon Huai Kon (103 mcg) in Chalerm Phrakiat district; and Tambon Mae Pa (76 mcg) in Tak’s Mae Sot district.

Published : March 26, 2019

By : The Nation