Thailand’s northern province of Chiang Mai was reported to have the worst air quality on the planet due to brush fires and agricultural burning.
The grim news from the IQ AirVisual air monitoring website came as authorities in Chiang Mai revealed that the situation had caused up to 30,000 people to go to hospital because of respiratory illnesses.
The Chiang Mai provincial public health office said 31,788 patients suffering from air pollution-related illnesses from January to March 5 this year, said Dr Suwanchai Wattanayingcharoen, director-general of the Department of Health under public health ministry.
Chiang Mai’s air quality has been ranked one of the planet’s three worst cities for pollution since the start of March. it also saw this ranking last year.
IQ AirVisual on Tuesday announced that the city had in fact been the very worst place in the world for many straight days with a USAQI of 195, followed by Beijing on 182. USAQI is an Air Quality Index used by the United States Environmental Protection Agency (US EPA).
Poor Air Quality from fire smoke
Tuesday’s morning, the level of PM2.5 in Chiang Mai rose above 200 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3), according to IQ AirVisual and the Thailand Pollution Control Department (PCD)’s air monitoring station gave similar findings.
At noon, the level of PM2.5 recorded at Chang Puek road in Muang district rose to almost 200 µg/m3. Thailand Meteorological Department (TMD) on Tuesday warned the air pollution would last for another week.
That is because the southern west wind current would be too weak to blow away the dust particles and these were trapped by the cool weather in the evenings.
The main contributor of the deteriorating situation in the North is said to be the considerable heat from wildfires caused by open burning in Myanmar forests and locally.
The northern region on Tuesday had 926 hotspots, 617 in protected areas and and 293 in reserved forests. Mae Hong Son had the most hotspots at 442, followed by Chiang Mai at 211 and Tak 108.
Wildfires and haze in the upper North has started to impact people’s health in six provinces: Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Tak and Phayao.
Deputy commander of the Third Army Area, Maj Gen Thanadpol Kosaisewee, said a taskforce responsible for controlling wildfires and haze in the northern region had deployed 60 patrol officers to five districts in Chiang Mai from Tuesday until tomorrow. The 35th Ranger Forces Regiment has also deployed 35 rangers to extinguish wildfires on Phrabat Mountain in Lampang province.Thailand’s Chiang Mai Has Once Again the Worst Air Quality in the World
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