Chiang Mai to declare PM2.5 crisis areas as disaster relief zones

Picture courtesy of Panumate Tanraksa

Chiang Mai Governor Nirat Phongsitthithawon announced that any area experiencing a PM2.5 dust pollution crisis of Level 2 or higher would be declared a disaster relief area, entitling it to emergency aid. He explained that a Level 2 crisis is declared when the average amount of fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 micrometres exceeds 150 microgrammes per cubic metre for five consecutive days, following the guidelines set by the committee on air pollution management for sustainability.

The governor revealed that Chiang Mai is equipped with six air quality monitoring stations, three in the Mueang district and one each in Chiang Dao, Hot, and Mae Chaem districts. Data indicates that the PM2.5 level exceeded the critical threshold for nine days from April 1 to April 9 in Chiang Dao.

He also mentioned that the Comptroller General’s Department is working on defining criteria and guidelines for declaring disaster relief areas. Once these are established, financial aid can be allocated to the affected areas.

To handle the haze problem, which stems from wildfires, agricultural practices, and vehicular and industrial emissions, several strategies are being implemented. These include closing 21 conservation forests to prevent wildfires and the anticipated closure of 25 national forest reserves.

Agricultural burning practices are being targeted through a strict no farm burning rule enforced by agencies under the Ministry of Agriculture and Agricultural Cooperatives. Non-compliant farmers risk having their support from these agencies suspended.

In urban locales, transport authorities have been instructed to increase checks on vehicles emitting black smoke, and industrial work officials are being directed to inspect factories that release pollutants.

According to, Chiang Mai was ranked 11th yesterday for the worst air quality, with the province’s AQI hitting 156, significantly above the safe threshold of 100. Four districts in the province recorded unsafe levels of ultra-fine dust pollution: Doi Saket, Mueang District, San Sai, and Mae On, reported Bangkok Post.

In a related development, park officials arrested a poacher in a forest in Tambon Mae Pang in Phrao district, where wildfires have been reported recently. The arrest, conducted by the Department of National Parks, Wildlife, and Plant Conservation (DNP), followed an anonymous tip about poaching in Sri Lanna National Park and Mae Ngad forest reserve.

The individual was charged with illegally collecting forest products and turned over to local police. Officials confiscated several kilogrammes of wild honey, 1 kilogramme of bee eggs, a lighter, and a headlamp.

Environment NewsThailand News

Mitch Connor

Mitch is a Bangkok resident, having relocated from Southern California, via Florida in 2022. He studied journalism before dropping out of college to teach English in South America. After returning to the US, he spent 4 years working for various online publishers before moving to Thailand.

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