Choking smog covers North Thailand

CHIANG RAI, 15 March 2019: Chiang Mai, one of Thailand’s popular tourist destinations, topped a worldwide air quality index chart on Thursday with a red alert count of 234 that health officials say should keep everyone indoors.

The picture was only marginally better in Chiang Rai, 180 km north of Chiang Mai that shares borders with Laos and Myanmar. The far north town registered a choking 197 index that ensures visitors cannot see the mountains less than 3 km away.

Based on the air quality index app Air Vision the best place to holiday is at a Thai beach resort. Samui in the Gulf of Thailand scored a happy 25 index, while Phuket was not as clear, but still in the liveable range of 91. While maligned for its pollution, against a clean air benchmark Pattaya is in the competitive frame with a 57 count.

Meanwhile, Chiang Mai suffers the discomfort of heavy smog and the dubious distinction of being the world’s worst place to be on holiday if your measure of quality is a clean burst of fresh air rather a blast of spicy heat from its famous street food.

Chiang Mai keeps company with Dhaka in Bangladesh that registered an air quality index of 221 and Delhi 212. Unfortunately as Thursday progressed there was one downtown spot in Chiang Mai, close to a hospital, that gagged on an API as high as 434.

All of Air Vision’s 10 worst performers in air quality are countries in Asia.

In Southeast Asia, Hanoi in Vietnam suffered on Thursday with an air quality index of 189 and the same high readings persisted across the northern provinces of Thailand.

Towns in Laos and Myanmar are not included in the Air Vision calculations, but if they were we might assume they were suffering the same fate across their northern provinces.

Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai provinces instituted a ban on fires, including household burning of waste since February, a ban that will remain until after the mid-April Songkran festival.

Compliance has been high in Chiang Rai with villages facing heavy fine if caught burning rice fields to prepare for the next planting.

But the prevailing opinion is that neighbouring communities in Laos and Myanmar continue to burn fields and hillside vegetation to make way for new plantations.

(Source: https://www.airvisual.com/)

Air quality and pollution city ranking

14 March 2019, 08:24

Major city
US AQI
1
 
Chiang Mai, Thailand
234
2
 
Dhaka, Bangladesh
221
3
 
Delhi, India
212
4
 
Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia
196
5
 
Lahore, Pakistan
191
6
 
Hanoi, Vietnam
189
7
 
Kolkata, India
168
8
 
Mumbai, India
166
9
 
Kathmandu, Nepal
165
10
 
Hong Kong, Hong Kong
158

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