Travel Tips : Air Quality by AirVisual


People with intrest in Thailand might have been following the news about the bad air quality in Bangkok. Well that is not only in Bangkok, this is a yearly event in North Thailand during what people now call the burning season (for what conveniently farmers are blamed). So people (me included) are becoming interested in knowing what level of air pollution is in their area. For this I use a app called AirVisual from the company Air Visual. But before you look at this app and start to worry, be sure you understand what you are seeing on this app. I will give an example of Nan province.

When you look up Nan province via this app, then at the moment (6:15am 14 February 2019) you will get an US AQI of 199. This is an international used standard of measuring air quality. This number means that the air is unhealthy for sensitive groups of people (and animals). But how is this number of 119 made? Well in Nan province are 2 stations that measure the air quality, both managed by Air Quality Management Thailand. But there is also data used from "AQI modeled using satellite data". And in some other provinces in Thailand (like in Chiang Mai or Bangkok) AQ data could also come from private stations (people who bought a Air Visual AQ device).

So now you know where the data came from. But how is that number 119 for Nan province made up? Well that is an average of the data collected in the province per hour. Now you should also know that AQ can change per hour and here in the mountains when at night there is no wind the AQ is worst. And AQ can depend very much per location. The AQ in one village could be bad will another village 5 km away could have reasonable AQ. So if you are living far away (like me in Pua) from any AQ station then the number of 119 for Nan province is just an indication.

But now we know that the AQ is not healthy, what are we doing about it? Well starting 15 February 2019 there is a 2 months burning ban. That means people are not allowed to burn anything. Now of course before 15 February people are burning everything, also things that are not dry yet. And personally I am wondering if the garbage dumps are also not burned for 2 months? And if the 100.000's of old diesel cars & trucks will stop driving for 2 months? And if the sugarcane factories will stop producing (they burn the sugarcane)? And of course the smoke from burning is not only created in Thailand, as a matter a fact we are made to believe that the most smoke comes from Myanmar, Laos and Cambodia. Well I am sure people there also burn their rice fields after the harvest but I believe that the majority of the air pollution is created in Thailand itself. But anyway bringing down the air pollution should be an international (ASEAN?) effort.

Remark : All this information is based on my personal experience with the use of Air Visual and living in North Thailand. I am not a air quality expert.

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