Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoenchai, the department’s director-general, warned that severe air pollution will affect people in high-risk groups, especially vulnerable children.
The provinces affected are Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak, with PM2.5 levels in Mae Hong Son’s Muang district hitting 140 micrograms per cubic metre of air (µg/m3).
Pollution from PM2.5 (particles measuring 2.5 microns or less in diameter) in these provinces has risen beyond safe levels for the past 19 days and hit unhealthy levels over the past 11 days.
Thailand’s safe level of PM2.5 is 50µg/m3, though the World Health Organisation (WHO) sets it at 25µg/m3.
According to WHO’s estimates, up to 570,000 newborns to five-year-olds succumb to severe pollution yearly across the world because their immune systems and lungs are not fully developed.
Also, children breathe more deeply when playing, and if they are playing in polluted areas, they stand to develop respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.
According to the Public Health Ministry, 27,550 children aged between 0 and nine in eight provinces in the North were found to have developed pollution-related diseases last year. Of them, 2,688 children were in Mae Hong Son alone.
Suwanchai, meanwhile, said that though children are on a school break at present, they should be dissuaded from playing outside. He said children, especially those in risky areas, should stay indoors and wear protective masks when outside. Also, he advised parents to ensure all doors and windows are closed and that children are fed healthy food and hydrated.
He also advised parents to immediately seek medical help if their child shows abnormal symptoms and children with lung disease should always carry their medicines.
Published : Aug 09, 2022
Published : March 19, 2022
By : THE NATION