Chiang Mai's severe PM2.5 pollution lands thousands in hospital


Respiratory illnesses and allergies caused by severe air pollution have seen as many as 12,671 people admitted to the Maharaj Nakorn Chiang Mai Hospital since January 1 this year.

The actual number, however, is far higher than reported because many patients could not be admitted due to overcrowding, said Prof Dr Bannakit Lojanapiwat, dean of Chiang Mai University’s Faculty of Medicine.

Dr Bannakit was quoted in a press statement released by the university on Friday.

“Doctors and public health personnel are working round the clock to provide the best possible healthcare to the public. However, people should also take care of their health to prevent severe symptoms from air pollution,” he said.

Chiang Mai\'s severe PM2.5 pollution lands thousands in hospital

The doctor advised people to keep track of the quality of air in their area via mobile applications like Air4Thai, AirVisual, and เช็คฝุ่น (dust check).

“If the level of PM2.5 exceeds 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air [μg/m3], you should avoid staying outdoors for too long,” he said. “In areas with PM2.5 above 150μg/m3, people should stay indoors, shut the windows and turn on air conditioners or purifiers that can filter dust particles.”

If you must go outdoors, make sure to wear N95 facemasks properly, he added.

Chiang Mai has been hit by severe PM2.5 pollution over the past several months due to the burning of farm waste and forest fires, both in Thailand and in neighbouring countries.

PM2.5 refers to dust particles that are 2.5 micrometres or smaller in diameter that can be easily inhaled. Long-term exposure to such fine particles has been linked to many chronic diseases, including acute lung and heart problems.

The safe limit of PM2.5 pollution set by Thailand is 50μg/m3, though the World Health Organisation sets it at 12μg/m3.

Meanwhile, Dr Bannakit has urged families to monitor the health of people in vulnerable groups such as small children, seniors, and those with chronic health problems. If they display symptoms such as frequent coughing, breathlessness, tightness of the chest, or dizziness, they should be taken to the doctor immediately.

The doctor also advised people in Chiang Mai not to add to their pollution woes by burning garbage and farm waste.

Chiang Mai has topped the global air pollution rankings over the past week. According to, Chiang Mai’s AQI (air quality index) came in at the hazardous level of 319, far ahead of 167 in China’s Wuhan city and 165 in Taiwan’s Kaohsiung.