7 October 2015
Some districts in southern Thailand have seen an increase in haze in recent days as result of the forest fires in Indonesia. Provinces closest to the Malaysian border such as Songkhla, Narathiwat, Pattani and Satun have recorded a drop in air quality. The haze has also affected the popular tourist island of Phuket.
The forest fires on the Indonesian islands of Sumatra and Kalimantan are an annual event caused by farmers using slash-and-burn methods to clear the land. The smoke frequently drifts across to neighbouring Malaysia and Singapore with both countries suffering for at least a month so far this year. Thailand usually escapes the worst effects of the smog, but climatic conditions this year has seen the haze creep into the south of the country with Thai authorities saying the air pollution is the most severe they’ve seen in at least a decade. People with respiratory problems in the worst-hit areas are being advised to take precautions with health workers distributing face masks and information. Motorists are being asked to use headlights during the day and local fishermen have also been asked to take extra care because of the reduced visibility at sea.
The Pollution Control Department of Thailand have a useful website to check air quality anywhere in Thailand. The website also links to the free Air4Thai app which is available for Apple and Android devices.