Southern Thailand provinces affected by haze

Seven provinces in Southern Thailand were affected by smoke from Indonesian forest fires yesterday, with Narathiwat the hardest hit after particulate-matter levels there reached the 129 micrograms/cubic metre considered adverse to health.

Meanwhile, Pollution Control Department deputy chief Araya Nanthaphothidet is scheduled to preside over a meeting of relevant officials in Songkhla today to discuss the impact of the forest-fire smoke.

Environment Region 16 Office director Halem Jehmarikan said Narathiwat's airborne particulate-matter level rose from 104 micrograms/cubic metre on Monday to 129 yesterday, a level that can affect people's health and respiratory systems.

He advised residents to wear face masks when going out and to avoid exercising outdoors. He warned that the elderly and children, as well as those with heart disease and asthma, were especially vulnerable to health risks from the air pollution.

Songkhla's devices for measuring air quality were damaged by lightning strikes in Hat Yai district a few days ago, which meant no report on particulate levels was available for the province, said Halem. New devices would be sent to Hat Yai and Satun this Friday, he added.

Halem said his office had also instructed authorities in Nakhon Si Thammarat, Trang, Satun, Songkhla, Yala, Pattani and Narathiwat to monitor air pollution, after smoke from Indonesia's forest fires reached Thailand faster than had initially been anticipated.