North hopes to be haze-free by month’s end

ศาสตร์เกษตรดินปุ๋ย : ขอบคุณแหล่งข้อมูล : หนังสือพิมพ์ The Nation

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/North-hopes-to-be-haze-free-by-months-end-30284447.html

AIR POLLUTION

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More than 21,000 suffer health effects

THE HAZE problem in the North is expected to disappear by the end of this month, as the number of hotspots in the region has dropped significantly.

“The farming season starts next month, so farmers who wish to clear their plots using fire must have done so already,” Pollution Control Department (PCD) director general Wijarn Simachaya said yesterday.

Haze has posed a serious problem of air pollution in the North. As of yesterday, the amount of small dust particles measuring less than 10 microns in diameter (PM10) had gone beyond the safe limit of 120 micrograms per cubic metre of air in at least four spots.

The hardest hit was Chiang Mai‘s Mae Chaem district, where the PM10 amount soared to 171mcg per cubic metre of air.

Mae Chaem district chief Tosapol Phuanudom admitted that agricultural fires had indeed been a major cause of air pollution.

“Local farmers have no other choice. They need to prepare their farms ahead of the rainy season,” he said. “But I can tell you that they have already cleared most of their land, which means there will soon be no more hotspots in the area.”

Farmers in the North have lit so many agricultural fires over the past several days because the 60-day ban on such fires was just lifted. They had to act fast because the farming season begins next month.

“Today, there were just a little over 10 hotspots in Mae Chaem,” Tosapol said.

However, due to the agricultural fires, the air quality dropped not just in Mae Chaem district but also in Chiang Mai town.

Yesterday, air-quality tests showed that the amount of PM10 particles in Chiang Mai‘s Muang district ranged between 126mcg and 146mcg per cubic metre of air.

The Public Health Ministry has learned that 21,891 residents have come down with systems related to haze, with symptoms such as eye irritation, difficulty in breathing, nausea, irregular heartbeat, headache, cough and eye inflammation.

Public Health Minister Piyasakol Sakolsatayadorn said people with chronic illnesses, young kids, pregnant women and the elderly had a higher risk of suffering health problems from smog.

Relevant authorities have handed out 200,000 facial masks to residents in haze-affected provinces in a move to reduce the health impact on people.

Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha will visit Chiang Mai next Wednesday to follow up on anti-smog efforts.

Wijarn said most areas in the North should be smog free from next month onwards with the exception of Chiang Rai’s Mae Sai district because it sits next to Myanmar and is usually affected by agricultural fires from the neighbouring country.

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