Unholy Smoke!

Unholy Smoke!

Air Pollution in Chiang Mai

These days when watching the sunset, it appears as a pink circle in the sky. The haze in the sky allows me to look directly at the sun without hurting my eyes. Initially, I liked the smoky scent in the air, but nowadays not so much.

This is the pink circle sunset of smoky days

This was the same un-smoky scene weeks before.

I remember the sky with smoke in the air and the haziness from when I was here 12 years ago. I had no idea that the mountains were there in Pai, nor did I know the mountains were so close to Chiang Mai, I couldn’t see them because of the smoke.

Lately the smoke has been in the news: Index of 118. Unhealthy for sensitive groups.

http://www.nationmultimedia.com/national/Dangerous-haze-in-six-provinces-PCD-30176702.html

Dangerous haze in six provinces: The Nation on Sunday February 26, 2012 1:00 am

“Six provinces in the Upper North were covered by unsafe levels of haze, the Pollution Control Department reported yesterday.

Chief of Chiang Mai’s environmental office 1 Apiwat Kunarak said the overall fine-particle dust situation was bad this year and might prove to be worse than 2007 for eight northern provinces in the long term. Some places had already endured seven or eight days of unsafe fine-particle dust – compared to two or three days of unsafe readings at most places in 2007.

Apiwat said the situation was the result of people continuing to disregard authorities’ request to stop outdoor burning, especially farmers clearing fields.

Chiang Mai Public Health deputy official Dr Surasing Wisarutrat said officials had asked schools not to make students line up outdoors for the morning flag-raising routine and would issue a formal letter tomorrow seeking their cooperation.

Some 50,000 face masks were also dispatched to 25 district hospitals for distribution to respiratory patients, he said.”

Whoa! Not good!

The haze over the 9 March 2555.  (FYI 2555 is the year 2012 in Thailand, it is Buddhist time 543 years before Christ)

“The results of air quality monitoring in the Northern Hemisphere on March 9, 2555 the amount of particles larger than 10 microns  24-hour average ranged from 58.8 to 384.0 micrograms per cubic meter of air. Can have an impact on health.

Pollution Control Department Asked the concerned authorities to take measures to reduce and control the fire in the open. No burning of forests and forest fires. The cooperation of the public not to burn garbage, agricultural waste, twigs, grass, etc., to reduce the severity of the situation caused by smog.”

That’s really not good at all! I would like to find a way to work with Thai people to educate some rural folks about the hazards of burning. We may focus on that with the students next year. It needs to come from Thai people…and it already is:

a sign near Chiang Mai

Not only is it in the news, it’s been taking its toll on some colleagues, students, and me. In singing the Thai national anthem, all the students are encouraged to wear face masks.

Some of our little students wearing face masks because of the smoke pollution. (That’s a hug, not a punch 🙂

It’s super hazy. My throat has a bad scratchy and a taste of something weird and metallic in it. My eyes are red and starting to burn. I may need to close the windows. It’s pretty bad to say the least.

End of February bad smoke

March 10th smoke view

March 12,2012: It’s raining!! Hooray! Perhaps some of this smoke will clear.

Eventually things get back to normal and I can see the rice fields clearly.

Good to know air pollution is only a temporary seasonal event in Thailand. I hope that with education, the burning decreases. Taking a look at the students and curriculum of our school, I have a tremendous amount of hope for the future.

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