Pollution chokes Thailand, Myanmar, Laos as leaders meet to boost air quality

Bangkok, Apr 8 (EFE).- Hazardous air pollution in Thailand was more than 10 times above safe levels on Saturday, with the northern city of Chiang Mai topping the list of cities with the worst air quality in the world.

Authorities in Chiang Mai province have urged people to work from home because of the unhealthy pollution levels in the northern region which borders Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia.

In neighboring Chiang Rai province, the air quality index (AQI) was a “hazardous” 307. An AQI of 50 or under is considered good, while 151-200 is unhealthy, according to AirVisual, an air quality information and monitoring platform.

The air pollution, which is worsened by seasonal crop burnings, has been choking much of mainland Southeast Asia for months. The region is also struggling with multiple forest fires that are exacerbating the situation.

The leaders of Thailand, Laos and Burma met on Friday for a virtual summit to boost efforts to combat the dangerous air quality and reduce smog and harmful PM 2.5 particles.

The meeting “exchanged information and experiences on addressing transboundary haze pollution,” while the three leaders also discussed “constructive and concrete approaches to tackle this common problem”, the Thai Foreign Ministry said in a statement released Friday night.

Air pollution is a recurring issue in Thailand during the dry season, which runs from October to April, due to a combination of factors including heavy traffic, construction, industrial activity and agricultural fires.

So far this year, nearly two million people have needed hospital treatment in the country for respiratory ailments caused by air pollution, according to the Public Health Ministry. EFE


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