Composite displaying town of Chiang Mai as seen from Doi Suthep on March 5 and 10, 2021, when the extent of PM2.5 was 70.9 and 114.4 respectively. (Picture: Gary Boyle)

Chiang Mai has spent a number of days this month as probably the most polluted metropolis on the planet. Certainly, its stage of PM2.5 – a measure of inhalable particles at particular person particle diameters of two.5 microns and fewer – reached 226 micrograms per cubic meter (μg / m³).

Air pollution ranges peak in northern Thailand through the burning season – usually in March and April – when the burning of crop waste and forest fires fill the air with particles, making a haze so dense that the mountain Doi Suthep, west of city, is obscured.

The predictability of the annual improve in air pollution and the shortage of efficient preventive measures angered metropolis residents and anxious civil society teams. The problem is complicated, nonetheless, involving large-scale contract farming, deforestation and encroachment, in addition to many socio-economic components.

However because the severity and consciousness of the issue elevated – a February report by Greenpeace attributed 14,000 deaths in Thailand in 2020 to air air pollution – there may be now extra knowledge out there to establish the causes. and the sources of the smoke.

The Division of Air pollution Management, underneath the aegis of the Ministry of the Atmosphere, says the primary explanation for the Nordic haze is the intensive burning of farmland, pointing to contract corn farming as one of many essential contributors .

Harvesting the Hed Thob mushrooms is one other issue, as hunters set the forest flooring on hearth to make choosing simpler.

With regards to tackling the haze, Thai companies and native governments play an vital function.

The Charoen Pokphand Group (CP) is Thailand’s largest meals firm and is closely invested in corn for its animal feed trade. For its half, within the CP’s personal doc “Maize Factsheet 2021”, the corporate states “for the reason that extreme haze disaster in 2015, [CP] joins society in all sectors to unravel the issues that come up, and likewise realizes the significance of social and environmental duty. Nevertheless, the doc doesn’t present any info on the length or outcomes of PD initiatives.

As a result of predictability of the annual haze from the north, many assume that native governments are doing too little about the issue. Chiang Mai vice-governor Rattapol Naradisorn disputes this.

“Within the quick time period, we’re working to place out fires. In the long run, we wish to flip biomass waste into one thing that has financial worth, for instance briquettes to make use of as gas.”

Nevertheless, the authorities’ annual hearth ban – two months when open burning is prohibited – has been criticized as a result of this yr, the beginning of the Chiang Mai ban on March 1 coincided with a big improve. PM2.5 ranges.

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