Haze of Smog Hovers over Laos’ Capital, Citizens Concerned about Health Risks

Smog (air pollution) Descends upon Laos
Air pollution descends upon Laos each year during the dry season when slash and burn agriculture is conducted.

An unhealthy haze of smog has descended upon the capital city of Vientiane and air pollution has been noted in several other provinces around Laos.

Concerned local and international residents have been monitoring the situation, posting online their own amateur updates on the local levels of atmospheric particulate matter (PM) using measuring devices.

These measurements tell a similar tale. Air quality in the past few days appears to have reached dangerous levels for human health.

While the Lao government has not yet made any announcement regarding the smog, the Laotian Times office was able to contact the Pollution Management Department, Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

According to officials at the department, unhealthy levels of pollution have been detected. However,  they state it is expected that within two or three days the situation will have improved.

Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog
Condominiums at That Luang Marsh SEZ almost invisible due to smog

The major source of the smog is said to be a forest fire in Sangthong District, Vientiane Capital, which has now been extinguished.

Lao citizens and foreign residents alike have voiced concerns about the smog, and social media has been flooded with information of varying reliability.

Many have taken to purchasing their own air quality reading devices, and many have looked to Thai websites for information on how best to deal with the problem at home.

It follows a famous case of dangerous smog that was reported in Bangkok this February, with schools closing and workplaces shut down due to particulate matter levels at PM2.5 (referring to particularly dangerous particulates measuring 2.5 micron in diameter or less).

Thailand’s Chiang Mai has also been hit with smog this month and was forced to ground flights, and was believed to be world’s most polluted city in terms of air quality for three days running.

This situation was monitored closely by people in Laos, who have raised questions as to why schools and workplaces have not been given any instructions by the authorities here.

Meanwhile, the possibility of rain over the next few days could provide some respite for the capital, if not the other provinces depending on where it falls.

Photo: Aleqs Log