Sunday, September 20, 2020

Songkhla prepares face masks, medicine for next round of toxic air

Sep 06. 2019
Photo Courtesy of Songkhla Provincial Public Health Office
Photo Courtesy of Songkhla Provincial Public Health Office
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By Somchai Samart
The Nation

Although PM2.5 levels – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – were on Friday back to officially safe levels in Songkhla, the head of the provincial public health office, Dr Uthitsak Harirattanakul, instructed officials to get masks and medicine in place in case the air quality again deteriorates.

Uthitsak said face masks and medicine for local residents needs to be quickly organised, especially for those in Hat Yai district, to be ready if the toxic smog from Indonesia soon flared up again. There are tens of thousands of face masks at hand – both the internationally recognised N95-grade and a lower grade mask – and Uthitsak was confident they would prove sufficient.

Smoke from forest fires in Indonesia on Thursday lifted the PM2.5 level in Hat Yai to 55 micrograms per cubic metre of air– slightly beyond Thailand’s official “safe level” of 50, and double the World Health Organisation’s limit of 25.

On Friday, all lower southern provinces reported levels of between 8mcg and 43mcg of PM2.5 – with Songkhla’s Hat Yai district and Yala's Muang district both at 43 mcg.

Uthitsak said all hospitals, including tambon-level health promotion hospitals, were provided with a sufficient number of face masks for distribution to residents in case of dense smog, while medicine to treat respiratory issues and skin irritation were already in stock.

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