Air Pollution in Chiang Mai, Thailand

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This article includes:

  • Sources of air pollution, and the burning season
  • Measurements of air pollution, including websites and apps
  • Ways to deal with air pollution, including masks and indoor hepa filters

Sources of Air Pollution in Thailand

Air pollution in Thailand is a combination of factors, including industrial, transportation, agriculture, and seasonal factors combined with terrain. In Chiang Mai, the countryside and surrounding countries of Myanmar and Laos, and cool season weather patterns means that unhealthy, as well as dangerous smog is present for weeks and months on end. The length and intensity of the so-called burning season can vary by a lot, starting as early as January and ending as late as May, though generally February and March are the most intense and uncomfortable.

The Burning Season and Slash-and-Burn Agriculture Air Pollution

A significant cause of the intensity of winter smog is the burning of agricultural waste, aka slash-and-burn farming. Not only is this method of land clearing still the predominant agricultural practice, but the amount of land and waste burned increases every year. The introduction of corn as a significant cash crop is especially detrimental to air quality because of the sheer amount of agricultural waste which corn produces. Combine this with simply the yearly accumulation of standard jungle growth in areas that are increasingly farmed, and every year millions of tons of waste is burned every season in Northern Thailand and the surrounding Myanmar and Laos regions.

Industrial and Transportation Air Pollution

Heavy metals? Coal burning plants?

How to Measure Air Pollution

The main irritant of the various pollution metrics is known as pm2.5, and any serious air quality index should list this.

How to Protect Yourself from the Air Pollution in Thailand?

  • Outdoors

Protect yourself Outdoor Air Pollution

While outdoors, a mask is the best approach

Kinds of Masks

  • Cheapest disposable - 10 THB
  • Better quality (N95) disposable - 35 THB
  • Higher end N95-N99 disposable
  • Washable with insert filter (color/pattern choices) - ??? THB
  • Washable with embedded filter - 1,000 THB

Protect yourself from Indoor Air Pollution

While indoors, it is more convenient to use HEPA filters