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|2||Thawi Watthana, Bangkok|
|3||Samut Sakhon, Samut Sakhon|
|4||Bang Kruai, Nonthaburi|
|5||Bangkok Yai, Bangkok|
|6||Bang Bon, Bangkok|
|7||Khlong Toei, Bangkok|
|8||Mueang Nonthaburi, Nonthaburi|
|9||Lam Luk Ka, Pathum Thani|
|10||Ayutthaya, Phra Nakhon Si Ayutthaya|
(local time)SEE WORLD AQI RANKING
live AQI index
|Air pollution level||Air quality index||Main pollutant|
|Moderate|| 73* US AQI||PM2.5|
PM2.5 concentration in Mae Chan is currently 4.5 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
Moderate 73 AQI US
|Wednesday, Nov 29|
Moderate 85 AQI US
|Thursday, Nov 30|
Moderate 76 AQI US
|Friday, Dec 1|
Moderate 62 AQI US
|Saturday, Dec 2|
Moderate 64 AQI US
|Sunday, Dec 3|
Moderate 68 AQI US
|Monday, Dec 4|
Moderate 64 AQI US
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Mae Chan is a district in the northern part of Thailand and forms part of the Chiang Rai province. It is divided into 11 sub-districts which are further sub-divided into 139 villages.
At the end of 2020, the Air Quality Index for Mae Chan recorded a figure of 93 US AQI which puts it into the “Moderate “category as defined by the World Health Organisation (WHO). The concentration of the main pollutant PM2.5 was recorded as 32.2 µg/m³. At these levels, it is advisable to wear a mask when going outside and closing doors and windows whilst at home to prevent the polluted air from entering.
The average recorded value for 2019 was 37 US AQI which put it in the “Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups” category (35.5-55.4 µg/m³). For the five months of the year from September through until January, the air quality was classed as “Moderate” (12.1-35.4 µg/m³). The months of March, April and May returned figures of 55.5-150.4 µg/m³, which is classed as “Unhealthy”.
The main source of pollutants in Mae Chan is micro particles of dust (PM2.5) caused by wood-burning by the local population who rely on this fuel as their main source. Construction and power plants also add to this problem. The amount of pollutants in the air varies over the course of a year. Farmers burn large amounts of agricultural waste as a way of fertilising the soil before planting the next crop. The months of March, April and May are particularly bad. These months are also the hottest months which come just before the start of the rainy season.
As this situation gets worse, the citizens are starting to voice their concerns and express their anger as to why nothing seems to be done about it. The Thai authorities have recently introduced a ban on burning agricultural waste for over 50 days, but this does not alleviate the problem as the waste is burnt at the end of the prohibited period. Local ex-pats have taken matters into their own hands by installing air pollution sensors at strategic points throughout the city. The hope is to pinpoint the source of the pollution using both ground data and satellite information.
Should you find yourself in Mae Chang during the burning season it is highly recommended that you wear a face mask whilst outdoors and consider using an air-purifying device for use in your home or car. The face masks are readily available and worn by many of the locals so you will not feel different if you wisely choose to also wear one. They substantially help filter out the air pollutants which otherwise would be inhaled into the lungs where they could exacerbate underlying health problems.
Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered local government agencies to investigate this problem and take action against it as it has reached dangerous levels. The air quality in Mae Chan has now risen to such a level that it ranks amongst the most polluted cities in the world. The size of the particles is so small that they can easily be breathed into the lungs where they pass into the bloodstream. This can lead to a shortage of breath, may increase the risk of heart disease and even trigger the growth of certain cancers. In comparison, Mae Chan’s current level of air pollution stands at 39 US AQI whereas Delhi is 161 and the notoriously thought of city of Beijing is 36. This situation is compounded by the geographical location of Chiang Mai as it is surrounded on most sides by high mountains which act as a natural barrier.
Bangkok had a similar problem with the quality of its air but after restricting the burning of waste and limiting the use of diesel, the situation has improved considerably.
China’s megacities were once the epitome of polluted cities but things have changed recently due to strong action by the government. We all need to be aware of the effects of burning fossil fuels and the need for more sustainable energy. China has proved this can be done and I’m sure the Thai government is more than aware of their situation and will do what they can to alleviate it.
The pollutants in Mae Chan are different from those found in Beijing but the principle is just the same. The government needs to work closely with the locals by encouraging them to use alternate methods to prepare their fields for the next crop instead of burning off the old waste. Other methods are available but they cost money, so the locals continue to burn the waste which effectively costs nothing. The geographical location compounds the problem but that is one of the main reasons that the area is so popular with tourists. The area needs the tourist “dollar” as well as revenue from agriculture so the two must work together to come up with a solution suitable for all concerned. Sites, such as IQAir.com can help monitor the situation and hopefully soon show a reduction in the poor air quality in and around Mae Chan.
PM10 was positively connected with blurred vision, whilst carbon monoxide (CO) was undeniably associated with lower lung and heart symptoms. Nitrogen dioxide (NO₂) could be linked to nosebleeds, larynx symptoms, dry coughs, lower lung and heart symptoms and eye irritation. Sulphur dioxide (SO₂) was connected to the swelling of the feet, skin and eye irritations and blurred vision. Finally, ground-level ozone (O₃) was found to be directly responsible for dry coughs, red eyes, and blurred vision.
These pollutants will affect different people in different ways. A strong, healthy young person will be less affected than an older person who already has health problems. The effect will also depend on the length of time exposed to such pollutants and also the concentration levels of the individual contaminants.