Chiang Mai residents to get free face masks as dangerous air pollution soars

Chiang Mai residents are getting free face masks as dangerous air pollution in the province soars. Authorities say they will hand out the masks to the public as forest fires continue to pollute the air.

The fires have been a problem for years as farmers continue to set ablaze fields to clear the way for the next crop cycle.

Several national parks and wildlife sanctuaries have been closed in the north and western regions due to the fires, with cloud-seeding expected to be used from Saturday in some areas.

According to The Guardian, helicopters dropped water on fires in western Thailand but the dry weather has hampered their efforts.

Authorities have also sprayed water on roads to reduce dust levels in Chiang Mai. They also say they are collecting leaves to reduce the spread of such forest fires.

Chiang Mai residents have been told to avoid outdoor activities and to use N95 masks. Authorities are also advising the public to use air purifiers and to seek medical care if they experience symptoms of heavy air pollution.

Such symptoms of high air pollution include dermatitis, eye inflammation, and respiratory tract problems. Along with air pollution causing illnesses, some fear the current state of the area could deter travellers from visiting.

The president of Chiang Mai’s Tourism Industrial Council told the Bangkok Post last week that companies running outdoor activities are experiencing a lull in demand.

Yesterday, Chiang Mai was ranked as the worst city in the world for air pollution, according to a Swiss air quality company, IQAir. It said the levels of PM2.5 particulate matter in the air reached 117 micrograms per cubic metre by 11am. That number was reportedly much higher than the World Health Organisation’s annual guideline of 5µg/m.³

Weather experts say that the northern provinces of Thailand will continue to experience high levels of dust for about one more week.

Environment News

Ann Carter

Ann Carter is an award-winning journalist from the United States with over 12 years experience in print and broadcast news. Her work has been featured in America, China and Thailand as she has worked internationally at major news stations as a writer and producer. Carter graduated from the Walter Williams Missouri School of Journalism in the USA.

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