AMID alarm that PM.2.5, which are tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs, has soared to 480 micrograms per cubic metre in parts of Chiang Rai province as measured at 11 a.m. today (Mar. 26) residents of this northern province have taken to Twitter to appeal for help from the authorities, Sanook.com said.
Tweeting under the hashtag #savemaesai residents voiced concern while urgently asking for help.
The 480 µg/m³ level, which is nine times higher than Thailand’s 24-hour average and 32 times higher than World Health Organization’s recommendation, was measured at Mae Sai’s Wiang Phang Kham subdistrict.
Air quality has deteriorated in 11 provinces and aside from Chiang Rai they are Nan, Phayao, Phrae, Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Bueng Kan, Nong Khai and Nakhon Phanom reaching 91 µg/m³ – a level which affects health.
All of this week provinces in the North and the Northeast, especially those bordering neighbouring countries, face unhealthy PM2.5 level due to stagnant air and forest fires both within the country and in neighbouring countries.
This month as many as 25,209 hotspots have been detected with this being very high and pushing up PM2.5 level.
Dr. Suwanchai Wattana Yingcharoenchai, head of the Health Department, said aside from symptoms such as burning, itchy and red eyes, skin irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing and chest tightness the tiny particulate matter will exacerbate the condition of people suffering from heart and respiratory diseases.
Long-term exposure will cause inflammation within the body and weaken various systems possibly leading to heart disease and cancer.
Data from self-monitoring of symptoms via the 4HealthPM2.5 in the Northern region this month shows 73.2% of the people had symptoms from exposure to harmful air pollutants, with this being an increase from the previous two months. Children 5 to 14 years old and the elderly were most affected.
People were urged to take care of themselves by reducing the amount of time spent outdoors and not exercise in the open air. If they have to go out they should wear a face mask and above all not burn objects or fields.
Air pollution in Chiang Rai today, March 26, 2023. The Thai headline in above image says #savemaesai. Above photo: Sanook.com, Front Page photo: Thai Rath