Air pollution hotspots rise in North with forest fires

Air pollution hotspots rise in North with forest fires

The air quality in the North and Northeast is deteriorating to levels that may pose a risk to people's health due to an increase in forest fires in Thailand.

More than 1,000 hotspots have been detected nationwide with 110 and 92, respectively, found in the northern provinces of Chiang Mai and Lampang, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) said yesterday.

The agency said Suomi NPP satellite images on Tuesday showed 1,060 hotspots were detected in national reserve forest areas (301), conservation forest areas (254), agricultural areas (248), Sor Por Kor agricultural land (146), community and other areas (104) and on the sides of highways (7).

The figures also indicated there were an increasing number of high-risk zones, especially in the Northeast, North and Central Plains regions.

The total number from Jan 1-March 1 showed that 7,912 hotspots were detected in the Northeast, 7,033 in the North and 4,550 in the Central Plains.

The Third Army Region's wildfire, haze and dust control headquarters in the North also detected 489 hotpots within its jurisdiction.

Meanwhile, concern is rising that high PM2.5 levels have started to harm people's health in the North and Northeast, which could force some to seek medical care.

The Pollution Control Department detected PM2.5 levels ranging from 49-118 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) in Chiang Mai.

With the government's "safe" threshold set at 50 µg/m³, the upper range of this reading was more than twice the level considered unsafe.

An air monitoring station in Mae Chaem district recorded the highest level of 118 µg/m³, while tambon Mae Na of Chiang Dao district hit 60 µg/m³.

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