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Smoked out in Chiang Mai
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  1. #1
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    Smoked out in Chiang Mai




    Smoked out in Chiang ma

    Tiny particles of dust blown in from forest fires is making breathing difficult in the North, but officials say the anticipated rain should chase it away

    Thick smog stemming from local forest fires and other conflagrations in Malaysia and Indonesia has severely hit Chiang Mai and Lampang, causing breathing problems for the residents.

    Authorities have called on residents to always wear a mask and to not start bonfires in forested areas. The smog is also affecting Chiang Rai, Tak and Phetchabun provinces.

    No injuries or hospital treatment sought by local residents has been reported since the smog began covering the northern provinces over the weekend. The region had undergone a similar problem in early February.

    Meteorological officials said rainfall anticipated over the next few days in the North was expected to reduce the smog and wash out sedimentary particles and dust.
    Krittika Pomphuek, a technician with Regional Environment Office 2 in Lampang, said so-called "hot spots" captured from aerial photographs had been detected throughout the region. Such forest fires usually occur during the hot season when farmers and land encroachers burn down trees.

    Deep in dust

    She said the highest amount of dust particles smaller than 10 microns detected in Chiang Mai was 206.2 micrograms per cubic metres and 153.5 micrograms/m3 in Lampang.

    The safety standard is 120 micrograms/m3.

    Chiang Mai University lecturer in the Medicine Faculty, Phongthep Wiwatthanadej has called for special care to be provided for the elderly and young children, saying that they could have severe respiratory problems.

    Symptoms reported among those exposed to smog include breathing difficulty, sore throats, eye irritation, and rash.
    The doctor said residents should immediately seek treatment when they start wheezing.


    Xtra

    dusty details
    Thailand's safety standard for dust particles (smaller than 10 microns): 120 micrograms per cubic metre or 50 micrograms/m3 under the European standard

    Highest amount detected:

    Lampang: 153.5 micrograms/m3 Chiang Mai: 206.2 micrograms/m3

    Daily Xpress

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    Re: Smoked out in Chiang Mai



    Rain eases northern smog


    Monitor

    Authorities are continuing to monitor the air quality and have prohibited outdoor burnings.

    Lampang meteorological station chief Thiwa Phanmaisri said yesterday that the rainfall on Monday evening had eased the smog that blanketed the area and the air quality was now back to normal.

    He said recent reports from the automatic air-quality detection stations in Muang and Mae Mo districts found 80-90 micrograms per cubic metres of dust particles in the air - compared to the standard level of 120 micrograms per cubic metre.

    Lamphun natural resource and environment chief, Worapoj Phongsamai said the air quality in Lamphun and Chiang Mai had improved yesterday.
    The amount of PM10 (particulate matter smaller than 10 microns) detected was under 120 micrograms per cubic metre. A station at Chiang Mai City Hall had 81.1, in downtown Chiang Mai it was 86.2, and a station at Phu Phing Ratchaniwet Palace measured 119.6 micrograms per cubic metre.

    Daily Xpress

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    Re: Smoked out in Chiang Mai

    EDITORIAL

    Burning issue plagues North
    Chiang Mai townsfolk might complain next month when the full force of Songkran is unleashed on them, but they were quite happy to get wet this week. The unseasonable rain temporarily dissipated the haze cloaking the city and this helped ease dry throats, burning chests and restore visibility.

    The unpleasant symptoms are a by-product of the annual practice of burning off fields, leaves, rice straw and garbage ahead of the next planting season, for which little water exists for irrigation anyway. This, coupled with the high temperatures at this time of year, causes forest fires which produce even more smoke and the provinces of Lampang, Lamphun, Chiang Rai, Mae Hong Son and Chiang Mai become shrouded in smoke. Among the haze-affected provinces, Mae Hong Son has been hardest hit due to wildfires and low visibility levels at the airport.

    A year ago the situation was alarming as air quality fell to hazardous levels. This year, the blue-and-white striped monitoring vans of the Pollution Control Department that scuttle around Chiang Mai are recording an improvement. This is partly due to the unexpected rain. It is also due to campaigns by the Forestry Department to persuade farmers to reduce and then abandon burn-offs and use non-traditional and less harmful methods of land clearance. The Public Health Ministry also took action by sending 200,000 face masks to protect people from air pollution caused by dust particles smaller than 10 microns in diameter, also known as PM10, that come with the acrid smoke. It has also put local hospitals on alert as a precaution and will launch an education and awareness campaign.

    But creating the most impact was His Majesty the King's expression of concern on Tuesday and his prompt despatch of artificial rain-making planes to reduce the particulate matter in the atmosphere which can penetrate lungs and cause respiratory diseases. His Royal Highness Crown Prince Maha Vajiralongkorn also assigned a medical unit to treat people made ill by the smoke in Mae Hong Son province and this team will be distributing 45,000 protective masks.

    Fortunately the situation is nothing like as bad as last year. Even so, there have been somewhat predictable consequences. The Association of Chiang Mai Tourism and Hotel Businesses says advance bookings for hotels in the northern capital for this and next month are down by 20%, due to concern by tourists over health and environmental conditions.

    It is encouraging that health and forestry authorities have promised a campaign to urge villagers not to burn forests, rubbish or grasses but this is easier said than done because it involves changing a traditional way of life. An additional problem is that national borders get in the way, with man-made burn-offs also occurring in Burma's Shan State and in Laos. Thus, the only real solution has to be one which involves the authorities of all three countries and tackles the root cause. Government representatives must meet at a high level to work together on this problem.

    The alternative is a long-term deterioration in the environment which could destroy some of our country's great natural beauty. That would be an unthinkable price to pay.

    Bangkok Post

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