We’re No. 1? Chiang Mai Air Pollution Smashes Competitors

Police direct traffic under a blanket of smog in Chiang Mai in March 2012.

CHIANG MAI — The “Rose of the North” won world recognition Wednesday for the dubious distinction of having the worst recorded air quality during peak conditions.

At about 1pm, pollution tracking service Air Visual, which combs data on various forms of pollution from monitoring stations around the globe, indexed Chiang Mai’s pollution at 170, or “unhealthy,” making it worse than Chengdu in China and Bangladesh’s Dhaka, at the time.

After the peak hours passed, the situation improved somewhat, with the index dropping to 160 at about 2pm and a just over 140 by 3pm.

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Smog and dust have blanketed over Chiang Mai in recent months, prompting complaints from local residents and environmental activists.

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Chiang Mai Gov. Pavin Chamniprasart responded by filing criminal charges against a news website for featuring a drawing of Chiang Mai’s founding kings wearing masks amid the pollution.

Bangkok has suffered from woeful air quality this year as well, reaching upward of 200-plus on the index on various days.

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Smog Airpocalypse Worsens Over Bangkok

Bangkok’s Air More Toxic Than You Think: Greenpeace