Author Topic: Smog in Thailand's north 'to get worse'  (Read 1345 times)

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Offline Johnnie F.

Smog in Thailand's north 'to get worse'
« on: March 06, 2012, 11:52:28 AM »
Smog in Thailand's north 'to get worse'


"Local farmers will light more fires to clear land in forest zones for their upcoming farming season. There's lot of stuff to burn this year because the forestland last year was too damp for them to light fires," Chiang Mai University lecturer Dr Suthinee Dontree said.

Suthinee has conducted research on how to prevent forest fires in Chiang Mai under a project jointly supported by the university's Public Policy Studies Institute and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation.

"I believe the smog situation this year will be as severe as that seen in 2007 and 2010," she said.

In those years, the amount of tiny dust particles known as PM10 was three times higher than what was considered safe.

According to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), each cubic metre of air should contain no more than 120 micrograms of PM10 particles for safety reasons.

Suthinee said 40 per cent of land in Chiang Mai's nine districts was cleared by fire in those years. The districts were Mae Chaem, Hot, Chiang Dao, Om Koi, Chom Thong, Doi Tao, Fang, Mae Ai and Chai Prakan.

She said relevant authorities should tackle the smog problem by designating certain hours of the day for fires in each area to stop locals lighting fires at the same time and seriously worsening air quality.

"However, in the long run, locals should receive help to find other work. If they find something that can give |them more income than mobile farms, they will stop lighting fires in forest zones."

AsiaOne
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Offline thaiga

Re: Smog in Thailand's north 'to get worse'
« Reply #1 on: March 06, 2012, 12:50:10 PM »
Kindergarten kids in Chiang Mai receive face masks to protect them against smog (ThaiRath)

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Offline thaiga

Re: Smog in Thailand's north 'to get worse' blackout hits Lampang
« Reply #2 on: March 06, 2012, 12:57:26 PM »
Big blackout hits Lampang

Wildfires have resulted in power cuts in Lampang affecting more than 23,000 families in two districts of the province.

The fires downed a large tree which hit and broke electricity wires on Lampang-Chae Hom Road, Adul Uthayotha, manager of the Provincial Electricity Authority in Lampang, said yesterday.

The blackout occurred around 5am yesterday and electricity could be restored some time today.

The blackout was affecting about 13,000 families in Chae Hom district and another 10,000 families in Muang Pan district, he said.

In Ratchaburi, wildfires have claimed more than 60,000 rai of forest in Suan Phung district.

Firefighting teams were able to contain blazes which broke out last week, but new fires have now been spotted nearby.

The new fires are thought to have been lit deliberately.

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra said she has ordered the Natural Resources and Environment and the Interior ministries to ask farmers to refrain from burning rice straw and grass, which can result in wildfires.

Suthinee Dontree, a geography teacher at Chiang Mai University, said state agencies should regulate grass burning and encourage farmers to grow different crops which do not require them to burn grass.

The government should also put in place a plan to deal with forest fires for the whole year, not only at the start of the year when the fire problem usually intensifies, Assist Prof Suthinee said.

In Mae Sot district of Tak, wild animals have been killed in forest fires which have destroyed more than 500 rai of forest land in the province.

The forest fire situation in Mae Sot is getting worse, Udomsak Palakawong na Ayutthaya, head of the fire control station in the district, said.
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Offline thaiga

Re: Smog in north Disaster zone may be declared in haze-hit North
« Reply #3 on: March 07, 2012, 12:55:18 AM »
BANGKOK, March 6 - As northern Thailand has been blanketed by haze for over a week, Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra on Tuesday said the affected provinces could immediately declare themselves disaster zones so that emergency funds can be allocated to apply to the problems.

Deputy Health Minister Surawit Khonsomboon announced the premier's remarks after Ms Yingluck chaired the cabinet meeting Tuesday morning before departing for Japan.
Mr Surawit said the prime minister instructed concerned ministers to visit the haze-hit areas and quickly sort out the problem.

The minister said the health ministry was instructed to provide for the public's health, while the interior ministry was asked to facilitate funds to local authorities in handling the situation.

The premier reiterated that the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment must take stiff measures against those who set forest afire and asked cooperation from the public to avoid any burning of croplands, Mr Surawit said. He added that the Ministry of Agriculture and Cooperatives must supervise rainmaking operations to reduce the dust particles.

"Now it cannot be judged when the situation will return to normal but all concerned agencies are speeding up their operations," the deputy minister said.

Although the prime minister gave green light for the northern provinces to declare their areas as disaster zones, the deputy minister noted that most provinces, except for Lamphun, are unwilling to do so for fear that it will negatively affect the tourism industry. They cited the need to monitor the situation closely before making such a decision.

Mr Surawit reported that the hardest-hit area is Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district with dust particles measured at over 300 microgrammes per cubic metre, a level which is above the safety standard at 120 microgrammes per cubic metres and poses health risk to human.

As of Tuesday, the deputy health minister said, the number of haze-related illness cases has risen five times with 14,000 asthma patients, 13,000 respiratory-related cases and 1,400 people reportedly suffering from eye irritation and poor vision.

Meanwhile, deputy government spokesman Pakdihan Himathongkam said the prime minister has instructed the Natural Resources Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk to coordinate with governors of affected provinces and report the meeting results to her directly.

The premier assigned Foreign Minister Surapong Tovichakchaikul to coordinate with Myanmar authorities as the cause of the haze siege of Thailand's upper North was due in part to burning in the neighbouring country, according to the spokesman.

Mr Pakdihan said that Deputy Prime Minister Chalerm Yoobamrung will visit Myanmar on Wednesday and hold a meeting with appropriate Myanmar agencies on the issue. (MCOT online news)
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Offline thaiga

PIYANART SRIVALO
PRAPAPORN KRUA-NGEW
THE NATION March 7, 2012 1:00 am

Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra yesterday ordered Cabinet members to visit haze-hit areas and fully tend to their residents' needs.

"We are taking care of people's health," Deputy Public Health Minister Dr Surawit Khonsomboon said yesterday after a Cabinet meeting.

He said the number of patients with haze-related problems in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district had jumped fivefold.

"The number of asthma patients, patients with respiratory disorders, and patients with affected eyesight or eyes has risen to 14,000, 13,000 and 1,400 respectively," Surawit said.

The amount of small dust particles - those in the range of PM10 - has soared above safe levels for weeks in the North. According to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), each cubic metre of air should contain no more than 120 micrograms of PM10 matter for safety reasons.

The amount soared above 300 micrograms in Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, causing grave concern among authorities.

However, despite haze problems in their hometowns, not a single northern resident had evacuated to government-provided shelters, according to Surawit.

"The shelters are located in meeting halls and air-conditioned halls," Surawit said. "Nobody has shown up there, though. Perhaps it's because they think the shelter won't help them much."

BREATHING EASIER IN CHIANG MAI

The PCD reported the haze problem in Chiang Rai eased with the amount of small dust particles dropping to 180.3 micrograms per cubic metre of air in Mae Sai district yesterday - a drop from 258.8 micrograms a day earlier.
However, the amount of small dust particles in other affected provinces - Chiang Mai, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nan and Mae Hong Son - has risen.

PCD has advised people to stay indoors, or to wear masks if they must go outdoors.

Army chief General Prayuth Chan-ocha said Their Majesties the King and Queen were concerned about the problem, which had clearly affected tourism and people's quality of life.

A flight to Songkhla's Hat Yai Airport was delayed by one to two hours as thick fog covered the district yesterday morning.

"It's the result of humidity," Southern Meteorological Centre (East Coast) director Wanchai Sak-udomchai said.
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/MPs-told-to-visit-haze-areas-30177441.html
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Offline thaiga

Re: Smog in north 'to get worse' BUT expected to ease in 7 days
« Reply #5 on: March 07, 2012, 09:25:18 PM »
PM's Office Minister: Haze over Northern provinces expected to ease in 7 days


CHIANG MAI, March 7 - Minister to the Prime Minister's Office Worawat Auapinyakul said Wednesday that the haze which has blanketed Thailand's upper North for weeks is expected to ease within one week.

The minister made remarks as he joined a campaign rally encouraging local residents to be aware of the haze situation which is caused by forest and groundcover burning and distributed face masks to prevent health risks from inhaling high levels of dust particles.

Mr Worawat said he has instructed governors of eight haze-hit provinces to strictly enforce the law to reduce the burning of forest and farmlands.

It is targeted that the haze problem should be solved in seven days, according to the minister.

Mr Worawat conceded that high concentrations of dust particles and haze still covered several areas, adding 487 forest burnings were reported since the New Year, damaging 3,000 rai of forest.

Meanwhile, Lampang Natural Resources and Environment official Aniwat Arammonthiralai said Wednesday that the level of dust particles continued to rise, particularly in Mae Mo district, which is blanketed by 237 microgrammes of dust per cubic metre.

Three other air quality monitoring stations measured high levels of dust particles exceeding safety standards of 120 micrograms per cubic metre.

Mr Aniwat said the haze crisis this year is lasting longer than in previous years with the highest level yet of dust particles registered.

He said as the situation worsened, the Northern Royal Rainmaking Centre began rainmaking operations Feb 28 to ease haze density but there has been no rain yet. (MCOT online news)
MCOT
AND THE LOTTERY NOs PLEASE
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Offline thaiga

Re: Smog in Thailand's north Locals pay high price for health
« Reply #6 on: March 08, 2012, 12:44:53 PM »
Many spend Bt4,000 a month on oxygen machines due to pollution
Hundreds of people in Lampang province's Mae Moh district are spending more than Bt4,000 a month to use a mobile oxygen machine known as a bronchodilator to help them breathe amid the haze that has reached record levels.

"The villagers are suffering from respiratory symptoms caused by pollution from bush and forest fires and power-generating activity at the lignite-fuelled Mae Moh power plant," community spokesperson Nakwiroj said yesterday.

After falling ill with respiratory symptoms, villagers are seeking medication and attention from hospitals and clinics. Many need to use the bronchodilator every four weeks, paying at least Bt4,000 a month for it.

" They have to pay this amount to the hospital as they want to extend their lives," she added.

About 80 per cent of patients are suffering from respiratory symptoms caused by small particles from the lignite power plant and 20 per cent from bush and forest fires, Maliwan said.

Villagers report suffering from eye problems, nasal illness symptoms, and headaches. Many cannot see beyond three kilometres.

lampang blanketed

The Pollution Control Department yesterday reported that the atmospheric level of fine-particle dust or PM10 - 236.88 micrograms per cubic metre - has exceeded the highest recorded.

"The situation has never arisen before in Lampang province," Natural Resources and Environment Ministry provincial officer Apiwat Arammon-tiralai said.

The heavy haze blanketing nine upper northern provinces has prompted the government to launch a "no burning" project, with a campaign among people living in the North to stop their traditional slash-and-burn land clearance methods.

The campaign was organised by a civil society group called Palang Jit Ar-Sa (The Power of Spirit) to resolve haze pollution. Volunteers, including physicians, police, students, and artists have joined the group.

The event was aimed at educating people on how to tackle the haze crisis that has persisted for more than a month. The campaign also wanted to raise awareness among people over natural resource conservation.

PM's Office Minister Woravat Auapinyakul said that Premier Yingluck Shinawatra had instructed state agencies to resolve the problem of haze pollution within a week.

Wrongdoers who illegally burn bush and forest face a six-month jail term and a fine of Bt50,000.

Woravat also asked local authorities to use water trucks to spray in the air and reduce haze particles.

The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency will capture satellite images twice a day to monitor the forest fire hotspots in the North and report to the PM.

Natural Resources and Environ-ment Ministry permanent secretary Chote Trachoo said he believes the haze situation in the upper northern provinces will return to normal once these strict measures and penalties for illegal forest and bush fires take effect.
http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Locals-pay-high-price-for-health-30177487.html
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Offline thaiga

After struggling with a month of severe pollution caused by manmade fires in the North, the Mae Hong Son forest office ordered a hunt for the arsonists yesterday.
A control station in Muang district reported that 28 fire ignited since February 3 had destroyed 133 rai of fertile forests. Last year, some 29 fires were reported, which destroyed 105 rai of forestland, station chief Chai Chaisiri said.

Meanwhile, a 76yearold Lampang native who suffered from severe asthma hanged herself yesterday because she could no longer bear the suffering, the House was told yesterday as part of an urgent motion raised by the Opposition.

Democrat MP for Tak Thanitphol Chaiyanant said Jansom Saikhruakham's death could have been prevented if the government had done something more to deal the smog problem, which is worsening.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Preecha Rengsomboonsuk said the governors of the nine smoghit provinces had been instructed to take action, but did not provide details on the action taken and the expected success.

He said districts where dust particles exceeded the safety limit would be declare highrisk zones, but so far, no such areas have been named despite the rising number of reports of health hazards and numerous cases of people suffering from respiratory problems and red eye.

Meanwhile, the Foreign Ministry has called on neighbouring countries to control manmade fires on their soil, he added.

Chiang Mai authorities will meet Burmese officials on Saturday to discuss the problem, and any local officials found being negligent in tacking the problem will be penalised, PM's Office Minister Woravat Auapinyakul said.

Nok Air, meanwhile, has cut its five daily flights to Mae Hong Son down to four due to poor visibility, acting director of Mae Hong Son airport Thanissara Singhakul said yesterday. However, Kant Air is still able to provide five flights a day because it uses smaller aircraft that can fly at lower altitudes, she added.

Up to 2,800 people seek treatment for breathing problems every day in the seven hardesthit provinces, the provincial public health office in Chiang Mai reported.

The number of small particles detected in Lampang was 236.88 microgram per cubic metre of air yesterday, while the average pollution in seven provinces exceeded the safety standard at 120mcg per cubic metre, though none have been announced as areas of high risk as claimed by Preecha.
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Offline Johnnie F.

Study finds Thailand's North rural people with high toxins
« Reply #8 on: March 10, 2012, 12:29:52 PM »
Study finds Thailand's North rural people with high toxins

CHIANG MAI, Thailand - High levels of a toxin contained in the harmful haze that is currently blanketing nine upper northern provinces have been found in the urine of people who live near areas where burning and forestfires are common.

Chiang Mai University's Research Institute for Health and Science studied the health impact of haze in the upper northern provinces on residents during the past three years. It found that atmospheric levels of small particles caused by forest and bush fires in areas outside towns were two to three times higher than those in urban areas, depending on weather conditions.

A senior researcher on pollution and environmental health, Tippawan Prapamonton, said her team of researchers collected urine samples from both adults and children living in urban areas and those outside urban areas in the upper north.

They found that the level of PAH, a widespread pollutant released during the burning of gasoline, oil, charcoal and garbage, was 13 times higher in urine samples collected in nonurban areas than in samples from urban areas.

Meanwhile, the number of children suffering from respiratory disease has increased drastically, Tippawan said.

"We have handed our findings to the Chiang Mai governor for use in resolving the health problems due to haze and pollution," she said.

Chiang Mai authorities plan to install devices to monitor smoke and smallparticle levels in eight provinces in the Upper North in a bid to resolve the haze problem in the long term.

However, atmospheric levels of fineparticle dust, or PM 10, in Chiang Rai province's Mae Sai district were measured at 384 micrograms per cubic metre, which is above safe levels.

About 150 people per day reported suffering from respiratory diseases. About 300,000 masks have been sent to the nine upper North provinces to prevent further health risks.

Lamphun governor Surachai Khanarsa said he would strictly enforce the law and mete out strong punishment to those who illegally burn bush and forestland.

Many tourist groups have cancelled their plans to visit attractions in the North, especially in Mae Sai district, due to the haze situation, affecting local businesses including restaurants and hotels.

AsiaOne
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Offline thaiga

Re: Thailand's north costs Thai tourism more than THB50bil
« Reply #9 on: March 10, 2012, 12:35:22 PM »
Northern haze costs Thai tourism more than THB50bil in revenue loss

BANGKOK, 10 March 2012 (NNT) – The haze crisis in Thailand's North has cost the tourism industry tens of billions of baht in lost revenue, according to the Thai Tourism Authority.

Accrding to Mr. Suphakit Polachan, Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand (TAT)'s northern office, the haze crisis that has hit 8 provinces in the North for many weeks have taken its toll on the travel industry.

He stated that the unresolved air pollution has led more than 10 percent of travelers, both local and foreign, to cancel their bookings. As a result, around THB50 billion of expected tourism revenue has been lost.

Mr. Suphakit is worried that unless the crisis is resolved before the beginning of April, when holiday-makers are expected to visit the region to enjoy the annual Songkran festival, more damage will be done to the travel business.

The TAT's northern office director went on to say that a number of travel agencies have cancelled their organized trip schedules to Chiang Rai, the move that is hitting local hotels and accommodations considerably.
DO I GET THE IMPESSION THAT MONEY MEANS MORE THAN PEOPLES HEALTH
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