CHIANG RAI (The Nation/Asia News Network): Chiang Rai residents protested at the district office on Monday (March 27), and demanded that the authorities take urgent action to tackle air pollution.
Northern Thailand once again topped the world pollution rankings on Monday, with Chiang Mai registering a high of 287 micrograms of PM2.5 dust per cubic m, but Chiang Rai hitting 542 mcg per cubic m.
Chiang Mai retained its No. 1 spot as the world’s most polluted city on the IQAir global index, which does not feature Chiang Rai.
Thailand’s safe limit for PM2.5 – fine-dust pollution linked with early death from heart and/or lung conditions – is 50 mcg per cubic m.
Satellite images continue to show hundreds of hot spots from fires burning across the north and over the border in Myanmar and Laos.
A crackdown on the practice of burning fields in preparation for the next harvest has apparently had little effect.
In Chiang Rai, PM2.5 in Muang district measured 232 mcg per cubic m. However, in Mae Sai on the border with Myanmar, it soared to 542 mcg per cubic m – almost 11 times Thailand’s safe limit.
The polluted air has reduced visibility, and led to an increase in reports of eye and nasal irritation as well as breathing problems among locals.
Provincial agencies and volunteers are focusing on spraying water and extinguishing forest fires to combat the high levels of fine dust in the air.