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Chiang Mai will be choking into May, climatologist warns

Mar 31. 2019
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By The Thaiger

Health-threatening PM2.5 haze is expected to linger in the North until at least early May, says the chief of Chiang Mai University’s Climate Change Centre.

Associate Professor Seth Sampattakul said the problem would continue until forest fires were extinguished or the rainy season began.

The level of PM2.5 – dust particles 2.5 microns or less in diameter – has consistently topped the safe limit of 50 microns per cubic metre of air in most of Chiang Mai.

In Samoeng district the level was recently measured above 500 microns – 10 times the safe limit – representing a serious health threat.

Seth said the problem had worsened despite efforts to fight forest fires and control the burning of vegetation on cropland.

More farmers were now burning off scrub to prepare their fields for the next growing season, he noted.

Chiang Mai Governor Supachai Iamsuwan has blamed “technical problems” for preventing him declaring the province a disaster zone. To do so, the province would have to utilise an emergency budget, a move barred by Finance Ministry regulations, he claimed.

He said all he could do was instruct local administrators to make use of their own funds to deal with the problem.

Supachai has come under heavy criticism for failing to curb what has become in recent weeks the world’s worst air pollution problem.

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