A Smoke Crisis in Northern Thailand.
The Seasonal Haze Pollution.
(ongoing project from 2014)
Northern Thailand- people have been facing a smoke crisis causing an unhealthy air for more than a decade, generally starting from february and lasting well into April. Growing population numbers combined with climate change will contribute to aggravating this crisis. The situation is getting worse year by year and has now become commonplace.
A rise in the values of PM2.5 - tiny toxic particles they can deeply penetrate the lungs - can create major health risks in the long run. Intense and persistent smog caused these tiny particles to descend over the streets. This seriously impaired the visibility of our surroundings and passed into people’s households, both day and night.
In March of 2019, Chiang Mai was struck by its worst smoke crisis to date, ranking the city almost continuously as the number one most polluted place in the world. The AQI (Air Quality Index) readings from the AirVisual website shows the PM2.5 rose up to 520 US AQI.
The local community - being strongly affected by the rising levels of PM2.5 - called on their basic right to breathe clean air, through their “Give Back Our Fresh Air” campaign.
Most topography in Northern Thailand is surrounded by mountains that resemble the shape of a bowl. During the change from winter to the summer season, the weather is very dry accompany with no wind. These factors - combined with high air pressure/low morning temperatures - press smog into the lower parts of the Chiang Mai valley, actively retaining it there. This meteorological phenomenon is called a temperature inversion.
At this time of the year, people set forests on fire for foraging wild items and to stimulate the growth of valuable mushrooms.
A ‘slash and burn’ in thousands of acres of maize in highland to clear land for new plantations are major causes of the haze pollution. Done by large agri-food companies, such as the CP Group (Asia's largest agro-food/feed corporation) among other companies, and the demand for these agricultural products is on the rise.