|1||Sam Phran, Nakhon Pathom|
|2||Phra Samut Chedi, Samut Prakan|
|3||Bang Phli, Samut Prakan|
|4||Samut Sakhon, Samut Sakhon|
|5||Thawi Watthana, Bangkok|
|6||Thanyaburi, Pathum Thani|
|7||Bang Lamung, Chon Buri|
|8||Nakhon Pathom, Nakhon Pathom|
|9||Mueang Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi|
|10||Suphan Buri, Suphan Buri|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Unhealthy|| 183 US AQI||PM2.5|
|PM2.5|| 117.3 µg/m³|
|Monday, Jan 18|
Moderate 98 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jan 19|
Unhealthy 153 US AQI
|Wednesday, Jan 20|
Unhealthy 158 US AQI
Unhealthy 166 US AQI
|Friday, Jan 22|
Moderate 84 US AQI
|Saturday, Jan 23|
Moderate 100 US AQI
|Sunday, Jan 24|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 110 US AQI
|Monday, Jan 25|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 108 US AQI
|Tuesday, Jan 26|
Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups 113 US AQI
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Mae Sot is a city in the western portion of Thailand, with Myanmar bordering it slightly further to the west. As such there is a large amount of traffic between the two countries, with many migrant workers from Myanmar coming into Thailand via Mae Sot, along with trade and commerce linking the two together (in particular the precious rocks, gems and teak industries).
Mae Sot is subject to some above average levels of air pollution, with fairly high readings coming in during the latter period of 2020. These higher readings are still coming in despite a significant reduction in human movement due to the COVID-19 outbreak bringing much of the year to a standstill, especially in regards to tourism.
Readings of fine particulate matter in the air, or PM2.5, are being recorded with averages of ‘moderate’ ratings. To achieve a moderate rating, the amount of PM2.5 in the air must be anywhere between 12.1 to 35.4 μg/m³. In the month of November, readings consistently came in within this moderate bracket, with numbers such as 25.9 μg/m³ and 19.1 μg/m³ being shown, demonstrating an approximation of the PM2.5 readings over the month of November.
As the months continued into December, the readings climbed significantly into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ bracket (35.5 to 55.4 μg/m³). Numbers as high as 43.7 μg/m³ were recorded, with readings not falling below 29.4 μg/m³ in the final month of the year.
This shows that Mae Sot is having some fair amount of problems with its pollution levels. Of note is that this is a common theme throughout the whole of Thailand, with the end of year pollution levels climbing rapidly due slash and burn farming practices, with rice fields and forest areas being targeted for burning, thus significantly affecting the pollution levels and causing them to rise to dangerous numbers.
Besides the previously mentioned open burn practices, there are also other causes of pollution that keep the ambient levels of smoke and haze higher than they should be throughout the year. With a large volume of trade occurring with Myanmar, as well as a large amount of Burmese migrant workers coming to work in the various factories and sweatshops in Mae Sot, the lower air quality levels would all see some fair amount of contribution from these points.
The whole northern region of Thailand suffers from extremely bad pollution levels during the burning seasons of the year, with other cities such as Chiang Mai, previously touted as being a cleaner alternative to living in Bangkok, actually having worse levels of pollution during certain times of the year.
Vehicular use is a constant source as well, being present in Mae sot in the form of cars, trucks, buses and motorbikes, both for inner city travel as well as crossing the border into Myanmar. Many of these vehicles would run on unclean fuels such as diesel, which give off larger amounts of pollution than their cleaner counterparts. In summary, the main causes of pollution in Mae Sot are smoke and haze from open burn fires, vehicular pollution as well as pollution caused by factories and sweatshops.
With problems such as open burn fires occurring, a large amount of pollution would find itself in the air as a result of this, alongside the other mentioned sources such as vehicular pollution and factory emissions. Some of the pollutants and fine particulate matter released from open fires would include a plethora of deadly compounds such as carbon monoxide (CO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), volatile organic compounds (VOC’s) and black carbon.
Nitrogen dioxide also finds heavy emission from vehicles, so much in fact that with high levels of nitrogen dioxide in the air, incidences of high levels of traffic will almost certainly be found nearby, and as such levels of NO2 can be used to calculate the amount of pollution (and therefore how problematic it is to the overall air levels) produced by the cars.
Other materials would include ones such as black carbon, the main component in soot that can often be seen covering areas that have high volumes of traffic, such as underpasses and the sides of motorways. It can also be produced from the improper, or incomplete combustion of organic matter such as the material set ablaze by the farmers. Other chemicals of note with highly detrimental and pollutive effects would be benzene, formaldehyde and phenol.
With readings as high as 43.7 μg/m³ coming in towards the latter part of the year, and other fairly high readings preceding it, it is safe to say that there would be a whole host of side effects of breathing such air. People with sensitivity to chemicals would suffer from superficial side effects such as headaches and nausea, but these can extend to aggravated asthma attacks as well as the onset or reoccurrence of other respiratory issues such as bronchitis or emphysema.
PM10, whilst not as deadly as its smaller cousin, can cause irritation to the skin, eyes, nose and mouth and trigger off allergic reactions, as well as causing an increase in chances of developing chest infections. On a more severe level, higher amounts of inhaled PM2.5 can accumulate in the lungs and raise the risk of developing lung cancer, particularly for people with prolonged and excessive exposure. Other issues include damage to the lung tissue, leading to a decrease in overall function, as well as problems with other organ systems such as the liver, kidneys and reproductive health.
Mae sot can go a long way in reducing its pollution levels with a further crackdown on the illegal fires occurring, as many of these fires continue to burn unabated due to a number of reasons, mainly their location (up in the hills, sometimes practiced by hill tribes particularly in the northern regions of Thailand) as well as taking place under the cover of dark. With continued efforts to reduce these fires, Mae Sot and indeed the whole of Thailand would see marked improvements in its PM2.5 levels both at the end and the beginning of the year. Other initiatives would include the improvement of public transport systems so as to reduce personal vehicle usage, as well as the eventual removal or prohibition of diesel fuels.