Smog level in Chiang Mai unsafe

Smog level in Chiang Mai unsafe

Chiang Mai was back on top as the most polluted city in the world yesterday, despite a ban on agricultural burning.

According to, the northern city ranked as the world's worst on the US Air Quality Index (AQI) with a reading of 230 yesterday. An AQI level above 100 is considered unhealthy. The AQI measures a broad spectrum of air pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, and carbon dioxide.

The density of fine dust in the northern city was mainly created by illegal burning of agricultural produce within Chiang Mai province and neighbouring countries.

Satellite heat maps yesterday tracked fires, almost all deliberately lit in several locations in Chiang Mai and also found thousands of similar fires in neighbouring Myanmar and Laos.

In an attempt to reduce the amount of smoke and smog pollution, Chiang Mai governor and the army deployed helicopters to help douse fires near the foothills of Doi Suthep and release water droplets into the atmosphere to clear the air of harmful dust in city areas.

Thai authorities have also sought cooperation from Myanmar and Laos.

Pralong Damrongchai, director-general of the Pollution Control Department, said officials are working with the authorities in Myanmar's Tachileik province and Laos' Ton Phung province to deal with the issue, including sharing equipment to douse fires.

Meanwhile, Chiang Rai province yesterday was also suffering air pollution problems due to prevailing wind blowing smog across the province. In Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district the AQI measured 198 while in Chiang Rai town centre, the reading was around 224.

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