BANGKOK (THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Northern Thailand was shrouded in smog as air pollution hit unhealthy levels in some areas, due to uncontrolled burning and wild fires.
Nine stations monitoring air quality recorded PM10 particulate readings higher than the safe level of 120 micrograms per cubic metre of air, the Pollution Control Department said on Monday.
The worst case was recorded in Lampang province (254 micrograms per cubic metre of air), followed by Lamphun (214), Phrae (209) and Chiang Mai (176). Lampang's air pollution was also the worst, with Air Quality Index hitting a high of 159.
Chiang Mai has been covered in smog for several days due to a wild fire.
The smog was so thick in some parts of the province that the peaks of Doi Suthep and Doi Pui mountains could not be seen from the city. Visibility was reduced to only three kilometres.
At Chiang Mai International Airport, pilots have been told to be more careful during taking off and landing.
Siriporn Plarak, a Chiang Mai resident, said she is spending less time exercising in the park as the smog would irritate her eyes and throat if she stayed out for too long.
Due to the hazardous levels of air pollution, the Ministry of Health has advised children, elderly and sick people to avoid unnecessary outdoor activities. Those who need to go outside should wear masks or cover their face with wet towels.
The ministry has also distributed 140,000 masks in seven northern provinces.
Air pollution is a chronic problem in the northern region. Farmers would burn fields to clear land every year during the dry seasons, and there's also a higher risk of wild fires.
In March last year, Chiang Mai recorded a PM10 level of 243 micrograms.