Congratulations, Thailand. We’ve made it to the top of the world’s most-polluted city list for two days in a row now — beating out perennial contenders like Delhi and Karachi.
The latest update from Air Visual at about 12:50pm today shows Chiang Mai’s air quality index (AQI) score at a baffling 296, categorized as “unhealthy,” described as the level at which “everyone may begin to experience health effects.”
It is even more unsettling to ponder the fact the northern city is a mere five points away from entering the “very unhealthy” territory, which would mean “Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.”
This is an increase from yesterday afternoon when, at 4pm, Chiang Mai’s AQI scored 229.
But the slimmest of silver linings (if you can even consider it that) is that Bangkok is at number 27 in the AQI world ranking today.
Many netizens have taken to social media to vent their frustration over the hazardous air pollution such as Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, who is wondering where the Chiang Mai governor is during this air crisis.
“Looking for a missing person: Governor of Chiang Mai,” his mock poster reads.
To answer Rungsrit’s question, Coconuts Bangkok called the Chiang Mai Provincial Offices for Natural Resources and Environment in a failed attempt to track down Governor Supachai Iamsuwan.
We were informed that the governor was in a meeting with related agencies discussing solutions to the smog, so … cheers to that.
However, in a video posted to Facebook last night, Supachai explained that this week’s especially bad air pollution was caused by strong winds, which brought smog up from southern provinces, as well as forest fires.
“I’d like to ensure citizens that the province and all related agencies are doing our best to fix this issue,” he said.
“For short-term solutions, we are spraying water into the air (to reduce dust) in several parts of the city…. while in the long term, we have to make sure there are no forest fires and reduce smoke as much as possible.”
But the most important thing, according to Supachai, is creating awareness about the issue among citizens.
Guess the governor isn’t missing after all. Right, Rungsrit?
We joke, but air pollution is no laughing matter. In fact, a report by Air Quality Life index published last Wednesday reveals that “air pollution shortens the average Thai’s life expectancy by more than two years.”
However, in the most-polluted regions, citizen’s lives could be shortened by more than four years.
— Koraa Kate (@koraa_kate) March 12, 2019
Update: The story has been updated to include the statement by the governor.