VIENTIANE (Vientiane Times/Asia News Network): Many areas of Laos are now covered in thick haze, with PM2.5 levels greatly exceeding safe levels and having the potential to affect people’s health, the Meteorology and Hydrology Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, has warned.
On Saturday, the concentration of PM2.5 in Vientiane rose to 71µg per cubic metre (m3) of air.
The World Health Organisation sets the average standard level of PM2.5 at 25μg/m3 over a 24 hour period which, if exceeded, is considered dangerous to human health.
The current high level of particulate matter (PM) over Laos, with the highest concentrations occurring in Borikhamxay, Luang Prabang and Xieng Khuang provinces, is caused by the burning of scrubland for the purposes of hunting, clearing land in preparation for crop growing, and general burning of garbage and leaves.
The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment said satellite data showed numerous polluted hotspots across the country, which have set record levels of poor air quality in some places and greatly reduced visibility.
With air pollution now reaching severe and hazardous levels, the ministry is warning people not to burn any type of garbage, to reduce outdoor activities as much as possible, and wear a face mask when spending time outside.