On Thursday, April 9, Thailand's Pollution Control Department issued severe air pollution red alerts for Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, and Mae Hong Son provinces, located in the north of the country. Heavy smog in the northwest has caused air pollution levels to spike dangerously. The concentration of extremely fine dust particles in the air, known as PM2.5, has increased to nearly 250 micrograms per cubic meter in some areas.
Authorities fear the high concentrations of PM2.5 that damage the lungs of those exposed may render the population more vulnerable to severe complications from the coronavirus (COVID-19), which has spread to the region.
A concentration of PM2.5 fine dust above 25 micrograms per cubic meter of air is considered unsafe by the World Health Organization (WHO).
Individuals in affected areas are advised to monitor the situation, watch for updates and health advisories issued by PCD, limit outdoor activities until the situation normalizes, or wear N95 rated masks as a protection. Children and those with chronic respiratory illnesses should exercise increased caution. Individuals are advised to seek medical attention if experiencing breathing difficulties or other health concerns.