SOME 2,200 Chiang Mai residents have come down with respiratory problems very likely due to the ongoing smog problem.
"We believe their symptoms are related to haze and forest fires here," provincial deputy public health chief Surasing Wisaruthrat said yesterday.
He said the number of patients with smog-related conditions was highest at Nakornping Hospital in Chiang Mai's Mae Rim district, which has treated some 589 such patients so far.
As of yesterday morning, the amount of small particulate matter up to 10 microns in diameter (PM10) stood at 138 micrograms per cubic metre of air in downtown Chiang Mai. Safety limits require that the PM10 does not go past 120 micrograms. Surasing has advised people to stay indoors and turn on their air conditioners if possible.
"If you have to go outdoors, cover yourself well and wear facial masks," he said, adding that this air pollution could adversely affect the health of people, particularly children, the elderly and pregnant women.
"Those with chronic diseases may also develop acute symptoms when exposed to the polluted air," he said.
Boonchin Saomoon, who heads a cyclists club in Chiang Mai, said he had stopped his daily cycling due to the smog.
"I am worried that the pollution will affect my throat and lungs," he said. The smog is now affecting several other provinces in the North, including Mae Hong Son and Chiang Rai.
Mae Hong Son's Muang district was hit with 236 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre of air yester
day, while in Chiang Rai, there was 151 micrograms of particulate matter per cubic metre of air in Muang district and 141 micrograms in Mae Sai district.
Chiang Saen district chief Pinij Kaewjitkhongthong said the smog appeared to have eased as visibility along the Mekong River had improved, allowing cargo ships to operate as normal.
Natural Resources and Environment Ministry deputy permanent secretary Suphot Tovichakchaikul said there were 209 hot spots - possible causes of smog - in Thailand.
"But we have also detected many hot spots in neighbouring Myanmar too," he said.