By PRATCH RUJIVANAROM,
It was reported that air pollution in Chiang Mai was found to have worsened yesterday despite heavy rains on Thursday night and an intensive operation to reduce smog by spraying water in the air in the previous days.
Dense smog covered the entire city, lowering visibility and increasing the danger to people’s health.
According to the air quality report of the Pollution Control Department (PCD), it was found that most areas in the northern region saw improved air quality with the exception of Chiang Mai and Mae Sot. Particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) in both places continued to aggravate and as of yesterday morning PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai peaked at 124 micrograms per cubic metre of air while it was 204mcg in Mae Sot. In terms of PM2.5 daily average levels, Mae Sot ranked the highest in the country at 154.85mcg, followed by Chiang Mai at 103.45mcg.
Thailand’s safety standard for PM2.5 is set at 50mcg, though the World Health Organisation recommends 25mcg. The head of Chiang Mai University’s Climate Change Data Centre, Sate Sampattagul, said the worsening air quality in Chiang Mai yesterday was caused by many factors, weather conditions being the most significant.
“The wind speed within Chiang Mai is very low – only 0 to 1 metre per second – which is not enough to carry dust particles in the air out of the city. The rains on Thursday night were not enough to wash away all particulate matter from the air,” Sate explained.
“Moreover, the wind from the South China Sea also carries dust particles and smog from other areas to the Chiang Mai valley, which further aggravates the smog problem in the city.”
Chiang Mai province Governor Pawin Chamniprasart said the local authorities were aware of the worsening smog problem and they had already set up meetings with relevant agencies to discuss the problem and find solutions.
Pawin urged the people to avoid outdoor activities and always wear a face mask when going outside to avoid the adverse effects from the air pollution.
Long-term exposure to high PM2.5 levels can lead to many fatal diseases such as lung cancer, stroke and heart disease, and also contribute to higher rate of premature deaths, according to health experts.
Meanwhile, PCD data showed that Chiang Mai has faced harmful levels of air pollution for five days in a row, while Mae Sot has suffered from adverse PM2.5 levels every day since February 28. Pawin revealed that local authorities had dispatched 30 water trucks to spray water into the air to relieve the problem, but the measure was not very successful.