Smoke-Filled Skies Become Growing Concern In Laos

Smoke-Filled Skies Become Growing Concern In Laos

VIENTIANE, May 1 (NNN-KPL) – Air pollution has become a growing concern in Laos, after the concentration of PM 2.5 reached harmful levels, as smoke from seasonal agricultural burning filled the skies.

The concentration of fine dust, known as PM 2.5, which is particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers, surpasses the safety level, according to a report from the Lao Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, yesterday.

Data registered yesterday morning, showed that, the air quality index in the provinces of Xayaboury, Oudomxay, Xieng Khuang and Champasak had reached a very unhealthy level, with the PM 2.5 concentration exceeding 203 micrograms per cubic metre.

The PM 2.5 concentration in Phongsaly province, some 750 km north of the Lao capital, Vientiane, hit 271 micrograms per cubic metre, according to the report.

“As we all know, air pollution is a health hazard for all citizens, and it could lead to long-term health problems. We must remain vigilant and join hands in reducing air pollution in homes and communities,” a 27-year-old student in Vientiane, said, yesterday.

“A simple thing we can do to improve air quality is to stop burning garbage,” she added.

Sinxay, a 29-year-old man living in Vientiane province, said, he always wears a face mask when going out, especially the N95 type, to protect against the inhalation of microscopic particles.

“I think everyone should take air pollution more seriously. We should stop burning garbage and dry leaves. We must be aware that PM 2.5 can have a harmful effect on the lungs, and it can cause eye, nose and throat irritation.”

“I believe most Lao people want to protect the environment and would do what they could, if they knew what to do,” Khammone, a 23-year-old woman living in Vangvieng, a tourism town in Vientiane province, said.

“I would like the government to provide more information about air pollution, including the causes and effects, to encourage people to understand the harmful effects of everyday activities, such as burning garbage.”

With air pollution rising to alarming levels in some parts of the country, the Lao government has instructed authorities in charge to take action against slash-and-burn cultivation, which causes current smoky skies.

During the government’s monthly meeting for April, Lao Prime Minister, Sonexay Siphandone instructed relevant sectors to step up, to prevent the health threat to the public caused by PM 2.5, which approached an unhealthy level.

– NNN-KPL

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