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Smoke haze over Phuket triggers a health alert, but not at Singapore levels

Haze Sweeps Phuket Under Asean Shroud

Saturday, September 19, 2015
PHUKET: The elderly, young children and people with respiratory disorders were advised to stay indoors as a smoky haze blanketed the Thai holiday island of Phuket today.

With the haze already forcing Singapore to worry about whether the F1 GP should proceed tomorrow and Malaysia sending two aircraft to evacuate citizens from an island where an emergency has been declared, the declaration that Phuket air has reached unsafe levels added a third country, Thailand, to those vitally concerned about burning off in Indonesia.

The Phuket warning was sounded by the island office of the Pollution Control Department at 6am today when the measurement of air quality on the Pollution Standards Index moved to 125, five points above the level considered ''safe.''

The Director of Public Health on Phuket, Bancha Kakong, said that the elderly and young should stay indoors, along with those who have respiratory ailments. ''People who go out are advised not to exercise and to wear masks,'' he said.

With Singapore and Malaysia already fuming at this year's increase in dangers over a problem that Indonesia has so far seemed incapable of solving alone, Thailand is now likely to also become involved - especially as news of the unhealthy haze is likely to affect tourism, which accounts for about 10 percent of national income.

Indonesia has made some belated arrests over the burnings this year. Smoke from farms on Sumatra and Kalimantan disturbs the country's neighbors of Singapore and Malaysia every year. This is the first time, however, that an unhealthy level has been recorded on Phuket in Thailand.

In comparison with today's level of PSI 125 on Phuket, the island-nation of Singapore was recording levels between 163-181, according to live readings taken soon after 10am.

An atmospheric inversion is being blamed by meteorologists for the haze on Phuket. Its presence became noticeable yesterday and was clearly considered harmful with today's 6am measurement of PSI 125.

On previous days, the Phuket pollution measurement showed nil on Tuesday, PSI 21 on Wednesday, PSI 17 on Thursday and PSI 24 on Friday.

If Phuket is affected, it's likely that other parts of Thailand - including neighboring Krabi and Phang Nga - are suffering similar unhealthy particle levels.

Comments

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PSI is an inaccurate method of measuring the level of danger air pollutants cause since it does not distinguish between PM10 and PM2.5.

The latter has been proven to be far more harmful to humans.

The US has adopted AQI which takes both into consideration.

The general consensus at the moment appears to be leaning towards the PSI level of 120 no longer being the threshold for a safe or unsafe level of particular matter suspended in the air.

Be it as it may, last night after just 10min walking my dogs outside in Chalong I could definitely feel the impact of the haze and went back inside.

This morning it felt a bit easier but the burning smell was very pronounced.

I've seen similar haze on Phuket in the past decade but this feels worse than anything I've experienced here before.

I feel sorry for many of those who live in conditions where they cannot block the outside air from entering their place of residence.

Posted by Herbert on September 19, 2015 10:55

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Despite the warning there are people in my area who are continuing with their daily rubbish burns. I don't have any formal measuring devices, but my nose, eyes and throat are clearly detecting 'uninhabitable'.

Posted by Treelover on September 19, 2015 16:15

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This is total madness. My lungs feel like I smoked a pack of cigarettes. A Thai health warning means a lot. How can people not barricade themselves and wear masks. All I see is daily life and pretending to be hard. Free masks? Blood tests? What's going on here?

Posted by Smokee on September 19, 2015 19:30


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