Air to improve in Bangkok, worsen in North, Northeast

Air to improve in Bangkok, worsen in North, Northeast

Forest fire in Chiang Mai province on Saturday (photo: Panumet Tanraksa)
Forest fire in Chiang Mai province on Saturday (photo: Panumet Tanraksa)

While Bangkokians can expect to breathe a little easier this week, with the levels of harmful ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants expected to start falling in coming days, residents living the North and Northeast were told to brace for a spike in air pollution due to wildfires in the region.

According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) air quality monitoring centre, or AirBKK, Sunday morning, PM2.5 concentrations in the capital city ranged between 12.8-26.8 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) -- lower than the safe threshold for exposure over a 24-hour period of 37.5µg/m³.

The figures are expected to fall further, as airflow over Bangkok is expected to improve until March 3, according to the BMA.

Not a single fire "hotspot" was detected in Bangkok, according to the centre.

Meanwhile, the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) found higher-than-average PM2.5 levels in 17 provinces across the North and Northeast on Sunday.

Out of the 17 provinces, Lamphun and Sukhothai reported the highest levels of PM2.5 on Sunday, with 89.6 µg/m³ and 76.8 µg/m³ respectively.

Dust levels in the 15 other provinces were considered unhealthy for most individuals.

The high PM2.5 levels are caused by wildfires in several northern provinces, including Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son and Phitsanulok.

Firefighters and park rangers are struggling to put out the fires as they broke out in locations which are difficult to reach, according to Chiang Mai deputy governor Tosapon Puanudom.

In Chiang Mai, the fires are concentrated in Ob Luang National Park in Hot district, where 38 hotspots were detected on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Mae Hong Son wildfires are mostly affecting Muang district, with 14 hotspots found, outnumbering Pai district's 13 hotspots.

In Phitsanulok, several wildfires have been reported in Wang Thong district, with four hotspots detected, authorities said.

The firefighters aided by volunteers in the three provinces are working to control the wildfires.

Interior Ministry spokeswoman, Traisulee Taisaranakul, said on Sunday that Anutin Charnvirakul, Deputy Prime Minister and the Minister of Interior, has ordered every governor to take action on wildfires and strictly enforces laws on farm burnings in their provinces to reduce the levels of PM2.5 in the air.

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