Laos Environment Ministry Issues Warning on Dangerous Air Pollution

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Air pollution in Vientiane Capital in 2019. (Photo: Toubay Mspz)
Air pollution in Vientiane Capital in 2019. (Photo: Toubay Mspz)

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has issued a warning about dangerous levels of air pollution now being recorded across Laos.

According to the ministry, air pollution reached unsafe levels on Monday to Tuesday in Vientiane Capital and the provinces of Luang Prabang, Oudomxay, Luang Namtha, Bokeo, Savanakhet, and Khammouane. 

Vientiane Captial saw an Air Quality Index (AQI) above the safety threshold at 121 while Luang Prabang had the most hazardous air quality at 178.

Burning in Vientiane Capital seen from the air.
Burning in Vientiane Capital seen from the air.

According to the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, the Air Quality Index must be between 25 and 50 for outdoor activities to be considered safe. It, therefore, advises against outdoor activities if the air quality is between 101–310.

Meanwhile, Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (GISTDA) has recorded over 3,500 hotspots in the region using satellite imaging technology. There were 1,300 in Cambodia, 965 in Myanmar, 612 in Laos, 176 in Thailand, 72 in Vietnam, and five in Malaysia.

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.