Chiang Mai - Air Pollution

Air Pollution

See also: Environmental issues in Thailand

A continuing environmental problem facing Chiang Mai is the incidence of air pollution which primarily occurs for a period of several weeks up to the beginning of April. This issue has been acknowledged for some time. Back in 1996, speaking at the Fourth International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement conference, which was held in Chiang Mai in that year, the then governor of Chiang Mai, Virachai Naewboonien invited guest speaker Dr. Jakapan Wongburanawatt, the Dean of the Social Science Faculty of Chiang Mai University at that time, to discuss the state of Chiang Mai air pollution efforts. Dr. Wongburanawatt stated that back in 1994, there were already increasing numbers of city residents coming to hospitals suffering from respiratory problems associated with city air pollution. The Thailand Pollution Control Department of the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is actively engaged in finding solutions with public awareness campaigns and other initiatives. During this period, unlike the majority of the year, air quality in Chiang Mai often remains below recommended standards with fine-particle dust levels reaching twice the standard. The northern centre of the Meteorological Department has reported that low-pressure areas from China trap forest-fire smoke in the mountains along the Thai-Myanmar border. Chiang Mai’s air quality has been perceptibly deteriorating over the past ten years. This is being addressed by a number of initiatives, and in part, is often seen in cities with increasing economic growth at the expense of a strong corresponding programme to counteract the negative effects of environmental impact. The city is often shrouded in smog during this period leading up to the rainy season. Fine particulate dust levels have sometimes been tested between 190 micrograms and 243 micrograms per cubic meter. (The standard acceptable level in Thailand is 120 milligrams per cubic meter, while the World Health Organization acceptable level is 50 milligrams per cubic meter.)

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