Laos Environment Ministry Warns of Dangerous Air Pollution

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Air pollution descends upon Laos each year during the dry season when slash and burn agriculture is conducted.
Air pollution descends upon Laos each year during the dry season when slash and burn agriculture is conducted.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has issued a notice warning residents about unhealthy levels of air pollution across the nation.

The notice states that particulate matter (PM 2.5) in the air is now beyond safe levels.

According to weather forecasts issued by the Ministry, westerly winds will bring warm air and humidity, with smog likely to cover large areas of the country, affecting health and vision.

Government air quality monitoring stations found that pollution had reached dangerous levels in Luang Prabang, Luang Namtha, and Bokeo.

In Vientiane Capital, the US Embassy monitoring station recorded an air quality index reading of 153, considered unhealthy, according to China’s World Air Quality Index Project.

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment (MoNRE) says the burning of all forms of waste during the dry season is strictly prohibited as this contributes to air pollution.

An elderly lady burns waste in Luang Prabang.
An elderly woman burns waste by the roadside in Luang Prabang.

The ministry is now recommending residents in areas affected by air pollution limit their movement or activities during the daytime and wear a facemask at all times when outdoors.

PM 2.5 refers to atmospheric particulate matter with a diameter of fewer than 2.5 micrometers. Particles in this category are so small that they can only be detected with an electron microscope, but can enter blood vessels through the respiratory system, causing respiratory and cardiovascular diseases.