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Toxic haze: Chiang Mai sees rise in number of respiratory patients

Mar 10. 2021
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By The Nation

Air pollution due to a forest fire led to an increase in the number of respiratory patients in Chiang Mai on Wednesday.

According to an IQAir report, Chiang Mai ranks as the world’s third most polluted city, with PM2.5 (particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter) readings at 118.7 micrograms per cubic metre (μg/m3). Chiang Mai was earlier the globe’s most polluted city for three consecutive days.

Thailand’s standard for safe levels of PM2.5 is 50 μg/m3, much more than the World Health Organisation’s safety limit of 25 μg/m3.

Dr Aphinant Tantiwut

Dr Aphinant Tantiwut, a medicine expert at Lanna Hospital, said patients with respiratory, asthma or heart diseases have increased by 10 per cent, adding that air pollution has also affected patients who have skin diseases or allergies.

He advised residents to wear N95 masks, which fare better than ordinary face masks used by the public against Covid-19.

“People should pay extra attention to their health and avoid outdoor activities. Those at risk, such as the elderly and bed-ridden patients, must be in a confined or air-conditioned room and see the doctor immediately if they have any symptoms,” he said.

Separately, the Save Chiang Mai volunteer group has cooperated with traffic police to deliver N95 masks to the public as these are priced higher than ordinary face masks.

“We would like to ask the government to launch a campaign advising people to wear N95 masks as ordinary face masks can’t prevent people from the toxic haze,” group member Thanawat Weeraphongkamon said.

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