How Thailand's Smoky Season May Be Taking a Toll on Your Health

February 26, 2015
Thailand is famous for its picturesque beaches, rolling mountains, and lush rice patties. However, the northern regions of Thailand are also infamously known for their smoky season, which is a concern for local citizens, expats, and tourists alike. If you suspect that the smog is taking a toll on your respiratory health, or worsening an already present respiratory condition, get relief from our lung specialists at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand

What are the signs of Thailand’s smoky season? 

Thailand’s smoky season is evident by poor visibility, yellow skies, and a lingering smell of smoke. These indicators predominantly occur in Thailand’s North and Northeast regions in February, March, and April. 
The air quality index, or AQI, is a system for measuring daily air quality. AQI measures the levels of large and small particulate matter, such as dust, dirt, and smog. It also measures carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide, sulfur dioxide, and ozone gases. 
AQI levels are measured from 0 to 500. The lower the AQI levels, the cleaner the air. According to, “AQI values below 100 are generally thought of as satisfactory. When AQI values are above 100, air quality is considered to be unhealthy - at first for certain sensitive groups of people, then for everyone as AQI values get higher.”

Air Quality Index
(AQI) Values

Air Pollution Level

Health Implications



Air quality is considered satisfactory, and air pollution poses little or no risk.



Air quality is acceptable; however, for some pollutants there may be a moderate health concern for a very small number of people who are unusually sensitive to air pollution.


Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups

Members of sensitive groups may experience health effects. The general public is not likely to be affected.

151 to 200


Everyone may begin to experience health effects; members of sensitive groups may experience more serious health effects.

201 to 300

Very Unhealthy

Health warnings of emergency conditions. The entire population is more likely to be affected.

301 to 500


Health alert: everyone may experience more serious health effects

Table source from

Who is most susceptible to Thailand’s smoky season?

Children, the elderly, and those that are currently suffering from asthma, bronchitis, COPD, emphysema, pneumonia, or other chronic respiratory ailments are considered to be part of the sensitive group. They are at higher risk of feeling the negative effects of poor air quality than the general public. 

What are the health effects caused by the smoky season’s high AQI?

The presence of a high AQI during the smoky season may be dangerous to your health because it has both short term and long term effects on your respiratory system. 
Short term health effects may include uncomfortable and irritable coughing and sneezing, shortness of breath, tiredness, bronchial inflammation, and respiratory infections. Long term effects include lung disease, chronic inflammation, permanent reduction or loss of lung function, and even lung cancer. 

Where can I get medical relief from Thailand’s smoky season? 

If you feel shortness of breath, excessive tiredness, or inflammation of your airways, we encourage you to schedule an appointment with Bumrungrad International Hospital Pulmonary Center. This comprehensive center offers testing and treatment of the lungs for issues related to Thailand’s smoky season. 
Services include, but are not limited to, treatments for asthma, COPD, bronchitis, emphysema, lung infections, lung cancer, and interstitial lung diseases.
Bumrungrad International Hospital’s Pulmonary Center can be reached at +66 (0) 2667 1555, Monday through Sunday, and is located at the Bumrungrad International Clinic (BIC) on our building’s 15th floor.
For more information please contact:

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