Haze-hit northerners feel the pinch, poll shows

By The Nation | 08  April 201 01:00


PEOPLE in the North are burdened by additional costs to cope with the ongoing haze crisis even as more forest fires erupted in some areas yesterday.

A Nida Poll survey of 1,253 respondents who lived in nine northern provinces and encountered the haze on April 4 to 5, found that nearly 57 percent of them had to bear additional costs to protect themselves from the pollution. It was not revealed how much more they had to spend. About 43.10 percent said they did not have to spend

anything extra to take care of themselves. The poll also found that 36.47 percent of the respondents said they were seriously affected by the problem, while only 9.26 percent said they were unaffected.

About 60 percent said they were allergic to the haze, with some |suffering from colds and runny nose, while 49.34 percent said they faced respiratory difficulties. About 48 percent said they had sore eyes.

Nearly 84 percent said they had used facemasks to protect |themselves and 29 percent said they preferred to stay at home.

The Pollution Control Department yesterday tried to downplay the |situation while forest fires still erupted in several areas.

PCD director-general Pralong Damrongthai said that as of 9 am |yesterday, the concentration of fine dust particles – PM 2.5 – had reduced in several areas compared to the previous day. The overall air quality had improved to moderately fine to health-affecting. Three areas in Chiang Rai and Chiang Mai were severely affected by the haze during the past weeks and were identified as the most dangerous for health. The |concentration of PM 2.5 microns in 24 hours were measured at 47 to 123 micrograms per cubic meter, still exceeding the safety limit of 50mcg.

The department asked for cooperation from local residents to desist from setting fires in their localities. Those prone to health problems should avoid exposure to pollution and outdoor activities, he warned.

From Chiang Rai to Mae Hong Son, new forest fires still erupted along the mountain ridges bordering Thailand and Myanmar and parts of Laos.

Officials and volunteers faced difficulties reaching the sites and |dousing the fires due to the steep slopes. In mountainous Mae Hong Son, as many as 128 hotspots were still detected.

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