THE Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) said while nationwide hotspots had reduced to 1,096 yesterday (Apr. 14) PM.2.5, tiny particulate matter that can dangerously clog lungs, exceeded the standard in more than 40 provinces, Naewna newspaper said this afternoon (Apr. 15).
Data from Suomi NPP satellite also showed hotspots in neighbouring countries with Myanmar having the most totalling 6,999, Laos 2,618, Vietnam 98, Cambodia 133 and Malaysia 45.
Satellite survey also revealed that it is Thailand’s conserved forests where most hotspots are concentrated totalling 497, followed by national reserved forests 384, agricultural areas 118, agricultural land reform areas 56, community areas 38 with three being along highways.
The three provinces with the most hotspots are Chiang Rai 206, Chiang Mai 205 and Nan 95.
Unsafe PM2.5 levels affecting health were found in many areas of over 40 provinces in the North, Northeast and Central regions. People were advised to wear face masks and avoid outdoor activities to prevent respiratory infection.
While in Bangkok the air quality is moderate, a district level survey showed PM2.5 pollution was higher than the orange level where it starts to affect health in Bang Bon, Bang Khun Thian, Phasi Charoen, Bang Khae, Thung Khru and Bangkok Yai.
The GISTDA team warned that PM2.5 pollution often spikes with forest fires and increased hotspots and those in neighbouring countries could affect border areas with the wind blowing it in. Also affecting the pollution is the Northern region’s mountainous terrain.
With forest fires and smog problems impacting the country in various ways especially its economy, social network and environment, Thailand will soon be fully using its Earth observation microsatellite THEOS-2 with one of its most important missions being to accurately survey, analyse and monitor disasters that have occurred or are expected to occur. The data will be gathered in a timely manner and sent to relevant agencies to use in planning, preventing, mitigating and solving problems.
Those interested can track changes directly by visiting https://fire.gistda.or.th or https://fire.gistda.or.th/dashboard.html. There is a Thai-language app which translates to #CheckDust ( #เช็คฝุ่น) to monitor the PM2.5 dust situation.
Air pollution images. Top photo: Thai Rath, Front Page photo: Kasikorn Research Centre,
Below: GISTDA maps showing hotspots and PM2.5 situations in the country. Credit: Naewna