How polluted is Chiang Mai air?
Chiang Mai’s air quality is moderately polluted and gets worse during the hazy season that typically runs from January to April. The city’s annual average PM2.5 concentration rose from 22.7 micrograms per cubic meter (µg/m³) in 2017 to 24.5 µg/m³ in 2018. Both figures are more than twice the World Health Organisation’s recommended annual guideline, and only marginally better than Bangkok air quality, which had a PM2.5 annual average of 25.2 µg/m³ in 2018.
Chiang Mai’s air quality is set to worsen again in 2019: from January to early November, PM2.5 concentration levels were on average 33.9 µg/m³. Notably, monthly average PM2.5 concentrations in March and April 2019 exceeded those of 2018, indicating a more severe haze season.
When is Chiang Mai’s air pollution at its worst?
Air pollution in Chiang Mai is usually at its worst from February to April, which is towards the end of the dry season. In 2018, PM2.5 concentrations in March were almost treble January levels and were “Unhealthy” according to the U.S. Air Quality Index (AQI). During the haze season, passenger planes are occasionally unable to land in Chiang Mai because of the poor visibility.
What are the causes of air pollution in Chiang Mai?
Despite government measures outlawing open burning, Chiang Mai’s haze season, also known as the “burning season,” continues each year.
In recent years, the smog in Thailand’s largest northern city has become worse due to industrialization and an increase in the number of vehicles on the roads.
Located in the northern region of Thailand, Chiang Mai is especially vulnerable to air pollution as it is surrounded by mountain ranges that trap pollution.
How can air pollution in Chiang Mai be reduced?
Authorities in the past have sprayed water in the air during the haze season to try to reduce the amount of dust, but this doesn’t get to the heart of the problem. There is an urgent need to reduce emissions from factories and vehicles, as well as smoke from agriculture burning.
Individuals can take steps in their daily life to reduce personal emissions by carpooling or taking public transport, actively switching to greener fuel alternatives, and more.
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