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Chiang Mai's smoke levels can be discomfiting, and sometimes dangerous, during rice field-burning season, approximately from early February well into April. The whole of northern Thailand and neighboring Myanmar and Laos often fals under a thick pall in this period, with hundreds of thousands treated for smoke inhalation. There are typically dozens of deaths. For example in 2007, 58 people died of smoke-related heart attacks. If you intend to visit at this time, you are well-advised to check on smoke levels in advance. Thousands of residents (foreign and Thai) leave Chiang Mai at this time to escape the smoke. The government is apparently uninterested in fixing the problem: in 2007, famously blaming it on Korean barbecue restaurants, which were then all closed down! Presently, the 'solution' is to spray the streets with water to 'moisten the air' (which actually does have an effect on reducing the ppm of airborne pollutants). There is little political will to tackle the burning of rice fields, which is the cause of the smoke. In March 2012, dangerous PM10 particles measured over 200 mcg per cubic metre of air in Chiang Mai, well above the 'unsafe' level of 120 mcg (the Thai government standard, which is more than twice the maximum level set by the [[World Health Organization]] ( [[WHO]] ) at 50 mcg). Neighbouring areas were as bad or worse (Chiang Rai for example was at 306 mcgs), so moving on to a neighbouring province will generally not help. The pall of smoke stretches from northern Laos, across Thailand, to eastern Burma.
 
Chiang Mai's smoke levels can be discomfiting, and sometimes dangerous, during rice field-burning season, approximately from early February well into April. The whole of northern Thailand and neighboring Myanmar and Laos often fals under a thick pall in this period, with hundreds of thousands treated for smoke inhalation. There are typically dozens of deaths. For example in 2007, 58 people died of smoke-related heart attacks. If you intend to visit at this time, you are well-advised to check on smoke levels in advance. Thousands of residents (foreign and Thai) leave Chiang Mai at this time to escape the smoke. The government is apparently uninterested in fixing the problem: in 2007, famously blaming it on Korean barbecue restaurants, which were then all closed down! Presently, the 'solution' is to spray the streets with water to 'moisten the air' (which actually does have an effect on reducing the ppm of airborne pollutants). There is little political will to tackle the burning of rice fields, which is the cause of the smoke. In March 2012, dangerous PM10 particles measured over 200 mcg per cubic metre of air in Chiang Mai, well above the 'unsafe' level of 120 mcg (the Thai government standard, which is more than twice the maximum level set by the [[World Health Organization]] ( [[WHO]] ) at 50 mcg). Neighbouring areas were as bad or worse (Chiang Rai for example was at 306 mcgs), so moving on to a neighbouring province will generally not help. The pall of smoke stretches from northern Laos, across Thailand, to eastern Burma.
 
Locals can be seen wearing white surgical masks, and this does little good. For actual protection, find a 3M "N95" [http://aqicn.org/mask/ mask]. Many expats spend these few months in more southerly provinces. Keep track of current pollution levels at http://aqicn.org.
 
  
 
===Water===
 
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