Chiang Mai Issues Work From Home Order as Air Pollution Levels Spike

Chiang Mai Issues Work From Home Order
Child walking amid the hazardous haze in Chiang Mai, Thailand. (Photo : gotothailand)

Thai Authorities urged residents of Chiang Mai, to stay indoors and work from home last Friday as air pollution reached hazardous levels in the city.

The cause of the alarming level of air pollution has been attributed to smoke from forest fires and crop burning by farmers which have led to smog blanketing the province. 

Last Friday, the air quality tracking website IQAir listed Chiangmai as the most polluted city in the world. It pointed out that the level of PM2.5, a type of particle matter so small it can enter the bloodstream, was 66 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) annual guideline.

As a result of the obvious health hazards this posed, Mayor Nirat Pongsittitavorn issued a statement, which recommended people stay indoors and work from home to protect themselves from the dangers of air pollution, reports the Straits Times.

Since the start of the year, more than 1 million people became sick due to air pollution in Thailand, although authorities have come up with temporary solutions to help tackle the problem, such as setting up emergency care centers and putting more electric public buses on the street.

Worsening air pollution has also played a part in decreasing tourism to Chiang Mai during Songkran, with some hotels reporting just around 20 percent occupancy during the long holiday, said Mr. Wittaya Pongsiri, vice-president of the Chiang Mai Tourism Business Association.

Air pollution has been rampant this year across Thailand and Laos, affecting majorly the northern parts of both countries. The UNESCO World Heritage town of Luang Prabang has also been experiencing dangerous levels of air pollution, leading to health concerns among residents and low tourist footfall.