Fifteen provinces, mostly in the North, have recorded high levels of hazardous ultra-fine PM2.5 dust particles in the air for three consecutive days, while the number of people suffering from health conditions linked to pollution has surged, the Ministry of Public Health said yesterday.
These provinces reported PM2.5 levels of more than 51 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m3), which is considered unsafe, said Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent secretary for public health.
The provinces were Nan, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Phayao, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Tak, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Nonthaburi and Bangkok.
The serious haze situation has prompted the ministry to set up emergency medical service centres in each of these provinces to respond to the impact on public health, he said.
Another six centres are being set up in six more provinces that are among 36 also reporting high PM2.5 levels, but not for up to three days in a row, he said.
Between Jan 1 and March 5, 1.32 million people in Thailand were diagnosed with health problems associated with air pollution, 583,238 of whom were diagnosed with respiratory diseases, said Dr Opas.
The number of new patients suffering health problems linked to air pollution this week stands at 196,311, compared with 161,839 recorded last week, said the doctor.
Elderly people, young children and people with lung and heart diseases are advised against doing unnecessary outdoor activities, he said.
According to the latest IQAir rankings of cities with the world’s worst air pollution, Chiang Mai has the worst in the world, followed by Wuhan in China, while Bangkok came sixth.