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Air quality in North still 'critical'

This aerial handout photo taken on March 18, 2020 and released by Thai volunteer group Jit Arsa shows smoke rising from fires in Mae Rim district in northern Chiang Mai province, where the blazes have severely impacted air quality. (AFP PHOTO / JIT ARSA)

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Air pollution across the upper North remains at critical levels with authorities monitoring almost 400 active hotspots in Chiang Mai alone on Sunday.

The air quality did not improve on Monday morning, with IQAir recording "very unhealthy" air quality and hazardous, PM2.5 dust levels at 170.1 microgrammes per cubic metre (μg/m³) at 10.30am in Chiang Mai.

Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat said fires have undoubtedly affected air quality, with 17 provinces in the North reporting an increase in levels of PM2.5 pollutants on Sunday.

Chiang Dao district in Chiang Mai reported the highest PM2.5 reading in the North on Sunday at 360μg/m³.

Ms Narumon said the worsening pollution is caused by a combination of factors which include arson, drought and winds which trap pollutants right above Thailand.

A combination screenshot from https://aqicn.org/city/chiang-mai/ and https://www.iqair.com/thailand/chiang-mai at 10.30am on Monday.

Most of the local fires were related to an ongoing bushfire in Doi Suthep-Pui National Park in Chiang Mai's Muang district, which suddenly raged out of control late on Saturday after burning for about a week.

Authorities used four helicopters to fight the fire, while drones and paragliders were sent to help detect hotspots and suspicious activities among villagers, who have been blamed for starting the forest fires to clear land for agriculture.

A source said that after several fires near Hmong villages within the park and in nearby Hang Dong district were found to have been deliberately set, local villagers in the area have been instructed not to engage in slash-and-burn farming until April 30.

Vocabulary:

arson : the illegal use of fire to destroy a house, building, or property; an arsonist is a person who commits arson - การลอบวางเพลิง  

bushfire : a fire that burns in an area where there are many plants and trees - ไฟป่า

critical (adj): (of a bad situation) very serious or dangerous - รุนแรง  วิกฤต

deliberately : done intentionally; done on purpose - จงใจ ตั้งใจ

hazardous : dangerous, especially to people’s health or safety - ที่เป็นอันตราย

PM2.5 (n): atmospheric particulate matter (PM) with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometres, which is about 3% the diameter of a human hair. It can lodge in the lungs and enter blood vessels, leading to respiratory and cardiovascular disease -

pollutant (noun): something that causes pollution - สารพิษ, ของเสีย, สิ่งที่ทำให้สกปรก

rage (verb): to continue with a lot of force, anger or violence - ลุกลาม

slash-and-burn : involving the cutting and burning of forests or woodlands to create fields - ไร่เลื่อนลอย

suspicious : a feeling that someone or something cannot be trusted — - มีความสงสัย, ด้วยความสงสัย, สงสัย, พิรุธ

trap : to catch or keep something in a place and prevent it from escaping - กับ, กับดัก

undoubtedly : certainly - อย่างไม่น่าสงสัย

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