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BANGKOK 23 April 2019 19:37
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North continues to reel under smog

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North continues to reel under smog

By THE NATION

 

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Bangkok airways fleet grounded as Mae Hong Son blinded by haze.
 

SMOG CONTINUES to choke daily life in the North, where more than 400 bushfire hotspots were identified yesterday. 

 

Most were in Mae Hong Son, which counted 100. 

 

Citing the safety risk, Bangkok Airways has cancelled its morning flights between Chiang Mai and Mae Hong Son until Sunday (March 24), extending the deadline from yesterday. 

 

The thick haze has significantly reduced visibility at Mae Hong Son Airport. Yesterday morning visibility was just 1,600 metres, whereas Bangkok Airways requires 6,000 metres.

 

The Pollution Control Department reported the level of PM2.5 – particulate matter 2.5 micrometres or less in diameter – in Mae Hong Son well above the safe limit of 50 micrograms per cubic metre. It averaged 85mcg in Muang Mae Hong Son. The World Health Organisation deems PM2.5 a carcinogen linked to several serious health problems. 

 

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Deliberately set brushfires are the main cause of the air pollution. With Mae Hong Son topping the list, Chiang Mai had 83 hotspots yesterday, Phayao 54, Tak 49, Nan 38, Chiang Rai 37, Lampang 31, Phrae 24 and Lamphum 20. Authorities in several provinces have declared total bans on outdoor burning, but farmers often risk the threatened fines because they have no other viable way to clear their land.

 

The PM2.5 in Nan stands at 119mcg, potentially harmful to everyone, not just children, the elderly and the ailing. 

 

Several outdoor activities have been cancelled in Nan, such as sports tournaments, as a result of the danger to health.

 

Pollution Control Department deputy director general and spokesman Dr Asadang Ruay-ajin said forest fires were common in mountainous areas like the North during the dry season. 

 

“Coupled with agricultural fires and the outdoor burning of waste, the haze spreads quite far,” he said. “So we’ve dispatched surveillance and rapid-response teams to the smog-hit provinces”.

 

Protective facemasks have been widely distributed, he added, and citizens are urged to wear them the whole time they’re outdoors.

 

Asadang urged residents to refrain from lighting outdoor fires, to stay indoors as much as possible and to do all they can to protect their health.

 

“You should keep doors and windows closed, clean your house regularly and wear a facemask that can filter out fine dust particles,” he said.

 

Meanwhile in the North, a village head manning a temporary fire lookout in Muang Mae Hong Son “arrested” three illegal immigrants yesterday morning. He was on watch in front of Mae Surin Waterfalls National Park, wary of anyone entering the woods to start fires.

 

“They can’t speak Thai,” Suwit Singkha, head of Ban Hua Nam Mae Sakeud, said of his captives. Three other people behaving suspiciously fled on two motorcycles.

 

Suwit and his team have taken 20 illegal migrants into custody since setting up their checkpoint, all of whom claimed to be on their way Chiang Mai to find jobs.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/national/30365971

 

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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-03-18

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Bangkok, we have a problem!   Both effective preventive and punitive measures must be taken with immediacy and stridency to stop the blatant destruction of our environment.  The Royal Thai Army remains tightly garrisoned while it could be out in the forests on patrol to identify, detain and bring to justice those arsonists who deliberately set fires. It’s a perfect use of dismounted infantry and their support units, working in environments that they have trained for. Likewise, why can’t the Royal Thai Police place its mostly underused (and useless?) street patrolmen and officers along with the deployed military personnel with prerequisite authority to arrest the perpetrators?  Only through such active offensive measures can the tide be turned and bring change to our beleaguered province. Asking villagers to stop burning has had zero impact now for the decade and a half I’ve lived here and in fact has led to new records set for toxic AQI.  Shame on the central government for allowing this ugly and unhealthy scenario to occur. 

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6 hours ago, brommers said:

Great ideas chaps!

I have another one, they could use log scale for AQI.

 

All well said brommers, you and I agree, but we know a politician only wants to please the voters today, hence the superficial measures. In one or two months they rains will start and the problem is forgotten until next year. No one wants to take the serious steps required for this yearly drama to really stop or decrease, and risk having enemies. Just as it would be relatively straightforward to prevent tens of thousands of deaths on the road, but at the cost of angering many.

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One thing is for sure-nothing will be done, and it will be worse next year 

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At least they've identified the root of the problem ... illegal migrants!

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