Chiang Mai doctor savages authorities as pollution levels soar
The Nation 06 March 2018 | PRATCH RUJIVANAROM
CHIANG MAI – THE SMOG situation in the North has reached hazardous level, especially in Lampang, where the amount of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) has increased beyond 200 milligrams per cubic metre of air.
Air quality in the northern region yesterday, measured by both the Pollution Control Department (PCD) and international air quality monitoring website, aqicn.org, showed that the PM2.5 level in many provinces was rising steadily.
Meanwhile, a health expert criticised the authorities for their failure to warn and protect people from the threats posed by air pollution.
According to PCD measurements, Lampang’s Mae Mo district had the most hazardous air quality in the nation yesterday. Its PM2.5 level was as high as 208mg in the morning, while the PM2.5 daily average level was recorded at 125.5mg – far higher than the national PM2.5 daily standard level of 50mg and the World Health Organisation’s standard level of 25mg.
PCD’s PM2.5 monitoring website reported that Tak’s Mae Sot District and Chiang Mai also had harmful levels of PM2.5, with daily peaks of 163mg and 105.86mg respectively, while the PM2.5 daily averages were 105.9mg and 57mg.
The PCD website also revealed that the PM2.5 daily average level in Chiang Mai had been higher than the country’s safe standard since Monday last week, while Mae Sot district has been suffering from severe air pollution for six continuous days.
Meanwhile, aqicn.org revealed that Chiang Rai and Nan faced unhealthy levels of PM2.5, with 160mg and 144mg respectively.
Meanwhile, Dr Chaicharn Pothirat, of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine, said the air pollution problem in the North was already at critical level, but authorities had largely ignored the severity of the problem.
He said they had failed to inform the public of the threats that high PM2.5 levels posed to their health or tell people what they should do to protect themselves from the danger of air pollution.
“Right now, the air quality in Lampang is so harmful that all people should stay inside a building that has an air purifier, and always wear an N95 facemask that can filter PM2.5 when they go outside,” Chaicharn said.
“However, there is no longer any warnings to people in the North about the PM2.5 levels in their locality, and the facemasks that the authorities distribute to the people are incapable of filtering PM2.5. All of these insufficient measures to protect the people highlight that the wellbeing of citizens is not the authorities’ main concern.”
He warned that prolonged exposure to high levels of PM2.5 could lead to many diseases including lung cancer, strokes and heart failure, and increased the chance of premature death.
Despite the dangerous level of air pollution in Chiang Mai, many people still were going outside without proper facemasks and many people were jogging in the evening.