“People with heart or lung conditions are urged to please be careful. If your chest begins to hurt, you develop a headache or it becomes difficult to breath, please see a doctor,” said Dr Bancha Kakong, Director of the Phuket Provincial Health Office (PPHO), in a press release issued today.
His office had yet to receive any reports of breathing-related conditions brought on by the haze, he added.
An officer at the Natural Resources and Environment Phuket office told The Phuket News that the regional NRE head office in Songkhla had confirmed that the haze originated from forest fires in the south of Sumatra, Indonesia.
The northern tip of Sumatra is just over 285km southwest of Phuket.
“Data from satellites reporting to the US government global environmental scientific research centre National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have identified that the haze is from forest fires on Sumatra,” the officer said.
NOAA satellites identified 152 forest fires on Sumatra on Tuesday (August 25). That number fell to 29 forest fires identified yesterday (August 26), he added.
Although the number of fires raging in Sumatra is falling, the fallout in Phuket as of yesterday saw the pollution particulate measure in Phuket register 58 micrograms per cubic metre.
Satun province, south of Phuket, recorded the worst air quality in Southern Thailand, with a reading of 83 PM10, while Surat Thani recorded a reading of just 41 PM10.
According to the NRE, a reading of under 40 is considered “Good”, from 41-120 “Average” and any readings between 121-350 is marked “Affects health”.
“This level of pollution should not cause any breathing difficulties,” the NRE officer said. “However, if people do develop any health issues related to air quality, they should see a doctor immediately.”
The Pollution Control Department Phuket office said that it did not expect the air quality to pose a health risk.
“But any persons with respiratory disorders should avoid going outside,” one office said.
At Phuket Airport, Air Control Supervisor Phanusit Kalajak said the haze had so far not affected any flights.
“All flights are still operating as usual. Sometimes the weather in Phuket is worse than this,” he said.
Additional reporting by Tanyaluk Sakoot