6 June 2024

Chiang Mai again ranks as the city with the worst air pollution in the world again today, as the provincial administration urges the public and private sectors to allow their staff to work from home and tourists to avoid outdoor sight-seeing or other activities until Thursday, due to high levels of PM2.5 in the atmosphere.

Chiang Mai Governor Nirat Pongsitthithavorn said, today, that the announcement is necessary for the health of tourists and locals alike, noting that there is still a communication gap between the authorities and the public regarding the PM2.5 problem caused by forest fires.

He said that officials have tried all necessary means to prevent forest fires, including rewards being offered for the arrest of arsonists, but they continue unabated. He disclosed that, some days, more than 500 hotspots are detected and, since the beginning of April, over 6,000 hotspots were detected in Thailand’s neighbouring countries.

Fang and Prao districts of Chiang Mai were declared public disaster zones last Thursday, due to the worsening smoke problem from raging forest fires.

From last Thursday until today, PM2.5 levels have been between 84.1µg/m³-224.3µg/m³ throughout the day and night and these levels are considered a threat to health.  For public safety, the governor said that all government agencies in the province have been instructed to adopt work from home measures for staff not dealing directly with the public and to use tele conferencing for meetings.

Restaurants and other entertainment venues are advised to arrange for air-conditioned rooms for customers.

All outdoor activities in public parks are suspended from today until Thursday, as members of the public are advised to wear face mask every time they go outdoors.

According to the AQI readings at 7am today, Chiang Mai had the worst air quality, at 194 , followed by Kathmandu in Nepal at 193, New Delhi, 186, Lahore in Pakistan, 183, Dakar in Senegal, 166, Kuwait City, 166, Yangon in Myanmar, 164, Dhaka in Bangladesh, 159; Shanghai, 152 and Kuala Lumpur,146.

For most of the northern region today, PM2.5 readings exceed the 37.5µg/m³ threshold level, ranging from 35µg/m³-192.7µg/m³. PM2.5 in 18 areas have reached the red level today.

The situation in the north-eastern region is as bad, with PM2.5 levels, ranging from 30.5µg/m³ to 83.8µg/m³. Only four areas in the central and western regions have excessive PM2.5, while air quality in the southern and eastern regions is considered as good.

Air quality in and around Bangkok is regarded as very good, with the levels of PM2.5 measured at 9.1µg/m³ to 24.9µg/m³, below the 37.5µg/m³ threshold.