By Chularat Saengpassa
Chiang Mai University Faculty of Medicine Professor Chaicharn Pothirat said on Friday the school needs purifiers for the 300 “clean rooms” it’s establishing as refuges for residents overcome by the smog.
He said retailers had “overly” hiked the price of purifiers, with a Bt12,000 unit now typically costing more than Bt20,000.
“We need help from Bangkokians who may have multiple air purifiers to give some to us so we can build clean rooms at tambon-level health-promotion hospitals and nurseries,” Dr Chaicharn said. He laments that his university could not order DIY Xiaomi air purifiers directly from China either due to the lack of import license. He said had the government declared Chiang Mai a disaster zone, such import would have been possible.
“The smog had been bad for nearly three months here and the establishment of enough ‘safety zones’ may still take some time.”
Chaicharn warned that northerners returning home for Songkran from locales elsewhere should brace for the ill effects of the haze.
Donations of purifiers, facemasks and other items of use can be made at the Chiang Mai International Exhibition and Convention Centre and Suan Dok Hospital’s Lung Health Centre.
Chaicharn said declaring Chiang Mai a disaster zone – something the governor claims he is legally unable to do – would allow the authorities to control the price and availability of essential goods.
He was leading a team in distributing 1,500 N95-grade facemasks to children and people with heart and lung ailments in Chiang Dao district.
A clean room was set up at Chiang Dao Hospital for the nurses. After surveying the area, the team has concluded that there are more than 4,000 locals who need to stay in the clean room because of their health conditions.
The Convention Centre is already a designated Safety Zone housing a significant number of “smog refugees”.
Asthma sufferer Khomta Jaisue, 63, said she was coughing up blood when she decided to flee her home at the foot of Doi Suthep, an area blanketed in haze for days.
The Chiang Mai public health office continues to call for donations of N95 facemasks, saying there are 500,000 people in need – children under 5, adults over 60, pregnant women, 94,000 asthma sufferers and 36,000 people with heart disease.
The Pollution Control Department reported at 9am on Friday that levels of PM2.5 pollution – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – in nine northern provinces ranged from 47-120 micrograms per cubic metre of air. The Thai safe limit is 50mcg.
Worst off were tambon Chang Pheuk in Muang Chiang Mai with 120mcg, followed by Jong Kham in Muang Mae Hong Son (119), Sri Phum in Muang Chiang Mai (111), Chang Kerng in Chiang Mai’s Mae Chaem district (105), Wiang Phang Kham in Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district (104), Ban Klang in Muang Lamphun (104), Ban Tom in Muang Phayao (98), Huai Khon in Nan’s Chalerm Phrakiat district (92) and Suthep in Muang Chiang Mai (83).
Officials and volunteers continue fighting multiple forest fires in Chiang Mai, where a satellite image captured at 2am on Friday showed 75 fire hotspots.