Thailand grapples with hazardous air quality in 30 provinces

Picture courtesy of KhaoSod

Air pollution has escalated to crisis levels in 30 provinces across Thailand, with PM2.5 readings exceeding the safety threshold, particularly affecting the health of residents in 11 areas. The highest recorded level of these harmful particulates in the country, at 146.0 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), was in Mae Hong Son today, March 20.

The Air Pollution Solution and Communication Centre (APSCC) under the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment has urged the public to take precautions, especially reducing outdoor activities, to mitigate health risks.

The APSCC’s air quality assessment revealed that the average 24-hour concentration of PM2.5 ranged from 15.3 to 146.0 µg/m³, significantly above the standard threshold of 37.5 µg/m³. The affected provinces include Samut Prakan, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Kamphaeng Phet, Phetchabun, Uthai Thani, Chai Nat, Suphan Buri, Kanchanaburi, Prachinburi, Loei, Khon Kaen, Kalasin, Roi Et, Amnat Charoen, Yasothon, Ubon Ratchathani, Si Sa Ket, Nakhon Ratchasima, and Surin.

The northern region of Thailand is largely affected, with PM2.5 measurements ranging from 29.5 to 146.0 µg/m³, designating many areas as red zones—indicating health impacts—with particulate values exceeding 75 µg/m³. Eleven areas in particular are experiencing the most severe pollution, including Jong Kham in Mae Hong Son, where the highest PM2.5 concentration in the country was recorded.

Other critical areas include Wiang Tai in Pai, Mae Hong Son; Suthep, Muang Na, and Sri Phum in Chiang Mai; Wiang in Chiang Rai; Wiang Phang Kham in Mae Sai, Chiang Rai; Ban Klang in Lamphun; and Huai Kon in Chaloem Phra Kiat, Nan.

The northeastern region also reports measurements surpassing the standard, with readings between 15.8 and 52.6 µg/m³.

Air pollution

The central and western parts of the country have three areas exceeding the standard, with values from 23.6 to 45.2 µg/m³.

The eastern region has one area above the threshold, with measurements between 19.9 and 38.9 µg/m³. Conversely, the southern region maintains good air quality, with PM2.5 levels between 15.3 and 21.7 µg/m³.

In Bangkok and its vicinity, the PM2.5 levels measured by the Pollution Control Department in collaboration with the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration ranged from 20.8 to 38.8 µg/m³, with one area exceeding the standard at Pak Nam, Mueang, Samut Prakan.

The forecast for the next seven days, from March 21 to 27, predicts a downward trend in PM2.5 levels in Bangkok and its surrounding areas, especially between March 21 and 25. However, vigilance is still advised in certain locales. Similarly, a decrease in pollution is expected in the 17 northern provinces from March 21 to March 23, with caution needed in specific areas.

The northeastern region anticipates a reduction in PM2.5 levels throughout the week, while the eastern region should remain consistently good, albeit with a few areas needing monitoring. The southern region is expected to maintain good air quality.

Public health recommendations advise the general population to be cautious, reduce outdoor activities, and use protective equipment. Those with special health considerations should minimise outdoor activities and also protect themselves. If health symptoms arise, seeking medical advice is essential, reported KhaoSod.

Residents in areas with significant health impacts (red zones) should avoid outdoor activities or use protective gear, and consult a doctor if they experience health issues. Current conditions can be followed on the websites and, as well as through the Air4Thai and AirBKK mobile applications.

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Nattapong Westwood

Nattapong Westwood is a Bangkok-born writer who is half Thai and half Aussie. He studied in an international school in Bangkok and then pursued journalism studies in Melbourne. Nattapong began his career as a freelance writer before joining Thaiger. His passion for news writing fuels his dedication to the craft, as he consistently strives to deliver engaging content to his audience.

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