As PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai Province exceeded 710 microns this morning (Monday), it was business as usual for most residents, despite advice that they should stay indoors. Most were wearing face masks however.
One noodle vendor told a Thai PBS reporter that the smoke problem is particularly bad at night and most customers do not eat at her shop and choose the take-away option instead.
The main Phahonyothin road in the district was as busy as usual this morning, as people carried on with their business in a hazy atmosphere and poor visibility. The level of PM2.5 at 6am today was measured at 710 microns, while the hourly average level is 534 microns.
Trasak Srithiphan, advisor to Chiang Rai Chamber of Commerce, is calling on the government to declare a state of emergency in Mae Sai district, so that all available resources can be mobilised to address the deteriorating air pollution problem, mainly caused by forest fires in the country and in neighbouring countries.
He said that the current pollution problem is not that of anindividual country, but a regional problem which must be addressed collectively.
Trasak said that residents of the district have no choice but to struggle on.
Residents of this commercial township, bordering Myanmar, are due to meet today to address the dust and smoke problem, possibly with a call for an emergency situation to be declared.
The Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation has reported excessive PM2.5, with 24-hour averages ranging of 37 to 537 microns, in the following northern and north-eastern provinces: Bueng Kan, Chaiyaphum, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Kamphaeng Phet, Lampang, Lamphun, Loei, Mae Hong Son, Nakhon Phanom, Nan, Nong Bua Lamphu, Nong Khai, Phayao, Phetchabun, Phichit, Phitsanuloke, Phrae, Sukhothai, Tak, Ubon Ratchathani, Udon Thani, Uthai Thani, Uttaradit.