Chiang Mai ranks as most polluted city in the world for 9 days running

Northern Thailand continues to battle a thick layer of smog with Chiang Mai being ranked as the world’s most polluted city by PM2.5 rating for nine days in a row, according to the IQAir website, reports ThaiRath.

The highest air quality index (AQI) value was found at the Health Hospital in Ban Khai Hospital in Mae Na Wang subdistrict, Mae Ai district, Chiang Mai province, measuring at a hazardous 411 μg/m3.

At Ba Pa Nai Hospital in Phrao district, Chiang Mai province, the AQI measured at 323 μg/m3 yesterday. In the Mueang Chiang Mai district, the AQI measured at 210 μg/m3.

Air pollution in Chiang Mai is continually hitting hazardous levels and hospitals are inundated with patients with respiratory issues, according to Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine.

In the first three months of the year, 12,671 patients sought treatment for breathing and other pollution-related health issues at the 1,400-bed Maharaj Nakhorn Chiang Mai Hospital. There are simply too many patients for everyone to receive treatment, the hospital said on Saturday.

On the weekend, officials found 13 forest fire hotspots inside the Doi Suthep – Pui National Park in Hang Dong district.

Officials said they managed to extinguish all but two of the fires, one near the Tad Ma Hai Waterfall in Mueang Chiang Mai district and a second at Doi Pha Chedi in Ban Pong subdistrict.

The second is particularly concerning because it could spread to the summit of Doi Pui. Officials from the Department of Disaster Mitigation and Prevention said they have got the fire under control with a KA-32 helicopter and firefighters on the ground.

Fires are also burning in Sri Lanna National Park, Pha Daeng National Park, Mae Takhrai National Park and Doi Wiang Phang National Park.

According to satellite data, there are 308 hotspots in Chiang Mai with 52 in Chiang Dao district, 46 in Fang district, 43 in Mae Taeng district, 38 in Phrao district and 28 in Mae Ai district, reports ThaiRath.

Air pollution is just as bad in Chiang Rai province where visibility is very low. A total of 222 hotspots were detected in Chiang Rai province, with added dust blowing in from fires in neighbouring Myanmar and Laos.

The Governor of Chiang Rai province, Puttipong Sirimat, confirmed that Chiang Rai would not be declared a disaster zone and said the situation is “under control.” However, the AQI in Chiang Rai is a hazardous 210 μg/m3 right now – 31.8 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value.

A volunteer helping to extinguish a forest fire in Ban Huai Hang in Chiang Rai’s Wiang Chiang Rung district – 34 year old Thanu Tuinoi – fell down the mountain and injured his shoulder blade and left arm and was sent for treatment at Wiang Chiang Rung district.

Another man, 61 year old Abu Khaewkong, also slipped and hit a rock, breaking five ribs, while returning from extinguishing a forest fire on Crocodile Mountain in Chiang Rai.

Thailand’s Pollution Control Department said that air pollution currently exceeds the standard in 20 provinces: Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Phichit, Lamphun, Lampang, Phrae, Nong Khai, Loei, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lamphu, Ubon Ratchathani, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Phitsanulok, Tak, Khamphaeng Phet.

On Friday, a volunteer firefighter – 39 year old Wichai Thimakham – was killed in a forest fire in Khun Khan National Park in Chiang Mai.

The destruction of wildlife is unfathomable.

Northern Thailand News


Leah is a translator and news writer for the Thaiger. Leah studied East Asian Religions and Thai Studies at the University of Leeds and Chiang Mai University. Leah covers crime, politics, environment, human rights, entertainment, travel and culture in Thailand and southeast Asia.