If you are enjoying clean air, be thankful today and everyday! Don’t take it for granted. One more item I add to my list of “things I am grateful for” is having clean air. Each year in the Northern Thailand, around this time of the year *late February to the month of March, the air pollution gets so bad that today Particulate Matters PM10 (bigger particles) measured 398.73 at Noon today near city hall which is the highest # recorded this year as of today. It was above 300 from 8am – 2pm. The numbers have come down to the 200’s by 7pm, but still, it’s very high. This is alarming because between 301 – 500 is considered hazardous. The PM 2.5 (100 times thinner than the human hair) are the smaller particulates and are even more dangerous and toxic because they can travel deep down into our lungs. The situation is seriously hazardous and alarming. I know, I can just leave Chaing Mai, We have that choice. We have a choice.
We are amongst the statistics of being treated for respiratory problems in Thailand. All of us are suffering from coughing, sneezing, stuffiness, drainage, tightness in the chest, sore throat and the list goes on! It’s bad! I worry about all of us and what the PM are doing to our bodies in the long run.
One of the reasons I love about Chiang Mai, is being able to roam to waterfalls, parks, temples, outdoor cafes and rides on our motorbike feeling the breeze on my face from Chiang Mai mountain air. Every year, the smog simply halts us completely from these activities. We have messaged Emma’s teachers not to let her play outside at all. She wears a mask the entire time when she has to go outside. We all do! We bought an air purifier recently and they are expensive here. We are staying indoors, taking all the precautions as much as possible. We even leave our house and go to indoor cafes and the malls. I have choices.
When I see workers at gas stations, vendor stalls, farmers being exposed to this toxic polluted air, I count my blessings that I can stay indoors, if I choose and I can leave Chiang Mai. Not everyone has these choices let alone being able to afford an air purifier. Some people simply do not know HOW dangerous it is to be breathing this air. That’s the sad reality. Each year since 2010 we have stayed in CM, because of Emma’s school schedule. We no longer have to do so in the following years. For that I’m thankful.
Starting next year it is very unlikely that we will be here in Chiang Mai. It’s the best thing we can do for our lungs in the long run.
Why is CM polluted around this time of the year you ask? Well this is what’s referred to as the “Burning Season!” Basically things get burned. By things I mean everything! Trash. and green waste alike. Farmers slash their farmland and burn. There are burn marks, piles everywhere, side of the roads, in the neighborhoods, on the mountainside. Our neighborhood is no exception. And the air, toxic. I don’t know a whole lot but from what I read the measurements are alarming. Do they burn at other times during the year. Yes. When it is cold the dried leaves and trash are burned. It’s in the air you can smell it. I remember it clearly because when I was young, growing up in Burma, the Burmese burned too. I am sure they still do. Especially when it is cold because it gives them warmth and when you’re poor you do what you need to stay warm. Burning in February and March is for entirely different reasons in Northern Thailand. I’m sure you can find articles all over the web about why. It’s a big topic around this time of the year.
So if you are planning on visiting Chiang Mai, be sure to check the stats, it’s critical that you do to take precautions.
My recommendation? Don’t come here in February and the month of March.
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