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Air pollution at “unhealthy levels” in 64 areas in Bangkok

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Air pollution at “unhealthy levels” in 64 areas in Bangkok | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS
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Get out the anti-pollution masks and turn on the air purifier, air pollution in Bangkok is at unhealthy levels. 64 locations in Bangkok have reported high levels of the air pollutant PM2.5, according to the Pollution Control Department. People are advised to avoid outdoor activities.

As a cold weather front in China weakens, air circulation is also slowing down, causing dust to accumulate and drop to a lower altitude, according to the director-general of the Pollution Control Department.

Drivers are advised not to keep the vehicle’s engines running while parked. Farmers are also asked not to burn farm wastes in open fields. Everyone should reduce outdoor activities, he says.

64 areas in Bangkok recorded the dust particles reaching unhealthy levels. The highest PM 2.5 levels were reported in Amphoe Muang of Samut Sakhon and were classified as “very unhealthy.”

Air pollution at

 

As of this morning, Bangkok ranked 20th on the list of cities with worst air quality, according to IQAir, but this is subject to change as the list is updated frequently and air conditions continuously fluctuate.

SOURCES: Bangkok Biz News | Thai PBS World | IQAir

 

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10 Comments

10 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Sierra

    Thursday, January 14, 2021 at 6:27 pm

    Its very simple. They were burning tons of crops in the north the last 3 days. The air circulation has brought all of that smog to Bangkok and combined it with the putridly neglected air here as well. The end result is toxic air which is tremendously harmful to adults and children. This national disgrace could be averted by enforcing anti-burning laws but the political appetite seems to be lacking.

    • Avatar

      Issan John

      Friday, January 15, 2021 at 2:27 am

      Actually “they” weren’t, as the sugar cane season isn’t at that stage yet.

      … and it’s not “tons of crops” that get burnt but tons of waste, which will almost certainly continue until someone comes up with an alternative way of disposing of it.

      • Avatar

        Stu

        Friday, January 15, 2021 at 8:22 am

        From December to April during the sugarcane harvest season, Thai sugarcane growers burn sugarcane stalks before harvest to get rid of dried leaves.

        So I guess by “they” he means Thai sugarcane growers. Or perhaps other farmers burn other crop waste too. Im not sure.

        Now that you have berated Sierra for his poor grasp of agricultural techniques in the Thai sugarcane industry perhaps you can add a comment worth reading as to why the pollution has increased….instead of just being a pompous tool….:)

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 8:28 pm

          Actually very few “burn sugarcane stalks before harvest to get rid of dried leaves.”

          That’s the old way and they not only get around 25% less from the factories which buy the cut cane but they have to pay the cutters more to cut the cane as it makes their job a lot more unpleasant.

          It’s seldom done anymore except either at the end of the season before the factories close or when the canes are being replaced every 3 or 4 years, and even then it’s not popular.

          … and FWIW, most other crop waste isn’t burnt off to anything like the same extent. Corn waste is used to feed the cattle, like hay or straw, as is rice bran which can also be used to produce rice bran oil commercially, but there’s nothing productive farmers can do with sugar cane leaves.

          As I’ve said elsewhere, burning the leaves after cutting undoubtedly produces vast amounts of pollution but what’s the alternative for the farmers?

          Genuine question, as I don’t know but at least I’ve suggested some alternatives which is more than you or anyone else has, here or anywhere else.

          “Why has the pollution increased?”

          Well, actually that IS “pretty simple”. In no particular order:

          1. The sugar cane leaves are only burnt off after the cane’s harvested, Dec – Mar, as no one’s come up with an alternative.

          2. The sugar cane factories are only open from Dec – Apr, when they produce enormous amounts of smoke and pollution 24/7.

          3. It’s stopped raining and Dec – Apr is dry season, so there’s nothing to “damp down” any pollution.

          Simple enough?

      • Avatar

        Sierra

        Friday, January 15, 2021 at 1:07 pm

        Thats a very pedantic point you made Issan John. Very pedantic and very incorrect. Crop Waste, the stalks, are in fact crop derivatives. Hard to be wrong on two points in a single comment but you somehow managed. Your other incorrect statement was that burning season hadnt started yet. In fact it started in November. I passed fields set on fire by Mid November and any simpleton looking at a fire map can see the fires raging accross Issan and other areas of Northern Thailand. I suggest you open your eyes, how else do you explain the horrendously poor air quality throughout Northern Thailand?

        • Avatar

          Issan John

          Sunday, January 17, 2021 at 8:53 pm

          Far from “pedantic” and far from “incorrect”, Sierra.

          The “stalks”, as you call them, ARE the sugar canes. THE “STALKS” ARE THE CROP!!!

          The “stalks” are NOT “Crop Waste” and they’re not burnt in the fields by the farmers. THE “STALKS” ARE WHAT THEY SELL TO THE FACTORIES to process, you complete buffoon!

          What’s burnt off in those fields you passed “set on fire” are the leaves!

          … and of course you passed “fields set on fire by Mid-November” but that ISN’T the main season which is NOW.

          … and “how else do you explain the horrendously poor air quality throughout Northern Thailand?”

          The same way that the experts have been explaining it for years:

          1. The sugar cane leaves are only burnt off after the cane’s harvested, Dec – Mar, as no one’s come up with an alternative.

          2. The sugar cane factories are only open from Dec – Apr, when they produce enormous amounts of smoke and pollution 24/7.

          3. It’s stopped raining and Dec – Apr is dry season, so there’s nothing to “damp down” any pollution.

          Which of those three don’t you understand?

          (probably any and all of it if you think the farmers are burning their sugar cane “stalks” as “Crop Waste” instead of selling it. 🙂 ROFL)

  2. Avatar

    chupapi

    Friday, January 15, 2021 at 8:27 am

    Few days ago there was a nice breeze and the Bangkok skyline was amazing. Yesterday and today looks like being into a Blade Runner movie 🙁

  3. Avatar

    Mr cynic

    Friday, January 15, 2021 at 8:53 am

    Quite a lot of it is caused by cement.suprised me when i first found out about it.

    • Avatar

      Fred glue

      Friday, January 15, 2021 at 2:44 pm

      Mr cynic, it has surprised me too , what you say can you give more information on it… just interested that’s all thanks..?

      • Avatar

        Mr cynic

        Saturday, January 16, 2021 at 5:10 am

        Just do a web search using cement concrete and air pollution,plenty will come up on the subject.
        It’s a major issue, particularly when you consider the amount of high rise developments in bangkok.

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Air Pollution

Stop the burn – Thai Governors told to stop farmers burning off agricultural waste

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Stop the burn – Thai Governors told to stop farmers burning off agricultural waste | The Thaiger

Provincial governors in Thailand’s farming areas are being told to mitigate the burning off of agri-business waste by farmers in their provinces. The annual burn-offs are the biggest cause of the December to April air pollution in Bangkok and Central Thailand which lie in the wake of the light north-easterly breezes this time of the year. The burn-offs partly co-incide with the lighter annual north-easterly monsoons.

Lt-Gen Kongcheep Tantravanich, a spokesman for Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwan, has been one of the first to openly admit that the agri-fires are the common denominator in the capital’s annual smog woes. Over recent decades Bangkok’s Pollution Control department has trotted out any number of PR stunts, including water-spraying drones and asking temples to stop lighting josh sticks.

Now that spokesperson says that the accumulation of PM2.5 micron dust in the atmosphere… “mainly caused by outdoor burning of waste, especially on farms, combined with poor air circulation, has been posing a health risk for the past several days”.

Deputy PM Prawit has now ordered all provincial governors to send teams to warn farmers to stop the burning or face prosecution. It’s not the first order from the top directed at farmers trying to find cheap ways to get rid of agri-waste and prepare their plantations for the next crop. But, despite the ‘warnings’ in the past the practice has continued largely unenforced.

Thai farmers conduct the burn-off activities to reduce the amount of leftover materials – biowaste – like stalk tops, leaves and refuse left after the harvesting. Rice farmers also routinely burn rice stubble – the residual plant waste to prepare fields for the next season of crops.

Around 70-75% of Thailand’s sugar production is sent overseas and the country ranks second in exports just behind Brazil. It’s a big industry. The government also introduced a quota, distribution and price support system between growers and millers which has helped to artificially keep a ceiling on the export prices. Most of Thailand’s sugarcane plantations are in the Central and Northeast regions, some of them, evidenced by the fire maps, are less than 100 kilometres north of the capital.

But the Natural Resources and Environment Minister Woravut Silpaarcha is resorting to the old government narrative, repeating that officials at the Pollution Control Department will have to coordinate with the Interior Ministry and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to “intensify efforts to reduce emissions of PM2.5 dust from vehicles and factories”.

He’s also suggested that companies should allow employees to work from home to reduce the amount of vehicles on the city’s roads.

The Pollution Control Department is now estimating that the biomass burn-off contribution to the PM2.5 levels could vary between 24 – 38%, with the majority of it coming from sugarcane and rice burning. Most of the concentrations of agri-burning is around Northern Thailand and in the farmlands north of Bangkok. These areas also suffer considerably from the direct effects of the smoke. Fire maps also indicate that an even worse problem exists in northern Cambodia and north-west Myanmar where the burning carries on un-abated.

Stop the burn - Thai Governors told to stop farmers burning off agricultural waste | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHICS: firms2.modaps

The Thaiger has waged a long campaign to provide fire maps and air-pollution readings over the past 3 years as evidence of the contribution of the agri-burning to Bangkok’s annual smog problem. But officials have kept beating the same drum, blaming factories, vehicle traffic and old diesel buses (which certainly need to be regulated as well but are not the main cause of the December to April haze and smog).

 

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Bangkok

Smog across Bangkok can be blamed on a ‘Dust Dome’ of pollutants

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Smog across Bangkok can be blamed on a ‘Dust Dome’ of pollutants | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thairath Online

Poor air quality across Bangkok in the past week are not just caused by the PM2.5 dust. We can blame a ‘dust dome’ that is formed with low atmospheric pressure, dust and pollutants from the farmland waste burning, and greenhouse gases.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Varawut Silpa-archa says that the pollutants come from “the improper disposal” of farming waste around Bangkok’s northern outskirts. He also asked provincial governors to ask farmers to avoid burring farm waste. If they refuse to cooperate, there might be an order to ban all outdoor burning activities in the future, while suggesting that farmers should sell their agricultural waste instead of burning it.

The mentioning of the agricultural sector being major contributors to Bangkok’s smog problems is a rare official recognition of the pollution ‘elephant in the room’.

People in Bangkok are also being encouraged to avoid outdoor activities and wear their masks when going outside to prevent both the pollutants and Covid-19. While “unhealthy level” of PM2.5 has been reported in many areas over the past week, the Department of Pollution Control is considering both short-term and long-term measures to tackle the air pollution problems.

Measures that have been rolled out include an extension of the work-from-home policy, lowering the price of low sulphur fuel in the capital and its vicinity, extensive monitoring of waste burning on farms, as well as offering higher prices for sugarcane products which were made in a sustainable manner.

For a long-term plan, the department is considering setting a new standard of air quality by lowering the “safe” threshold for PM2.5 exposure below the current level, but this is likely to happen in the next 5 years. Also, the government aims to apply the Euro-5 standard for vehicle emissions by 2024.

He also says that the pollution situation in Thailand has seen improvement after the measures were implemented. And, the number of days where [air quality] exceeded safe standards was less than 20% of the year.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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Air Pollution

Air pollution in Bangkok expected to get worse due to “cold spell”

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Air pollution in Bangkok expected to get worse due to “cold spell” | The Thaiger

Air pollution in Bangkok is expected to get worse over the next few days as pollutants are getting trapped in the atmosphere thanks to a recent cold spell and a lack of wind to blow the haze away from the city. In response to the unhealthy air pollution, The PM’s Office permanent secretary says he has asked several ministries to step up efforts in combatting the PM2.5 micron ‘dust’ particulate that has blanketed the city.

He says that the issue has been contained so far due to Covid-19 measures which have made many people work from home.

“But vehicle exhaust fumes, construction sites and burning garbage in open areas is not helping.”

“To add to the problem, the cold spell is creating an “inversion layer” as meteorologists call it, which stops air below it from rising and trapping pollutants.”

As usual, Bangkok officials are looking to some of the smaller, localised traffic issues to blame, although the annual “smoke from the north” problem is the key and overriding issue regarding Bangkok’s smog problem months. The local traffic pollutants, whilst ever-present, don’t cause the skyline smog and haze for the rest of the year.

And when the Thais refer to a “cold spell” it usually means the ambient temperature has dropped to the low 20s. In other parts of the world that would be considered a heat wave!

The secretary says police and other officials are being asked to curb traffic build-ups at intersections as some had seen a sharp increase in dust pollution. Motorists are also being advised to take their cars for routine engine check-ups but some owners are refusing, saying their cars are new and not releasing black smoke. Public transportation vehicles are also being checked for emissions that could further add to the pollution issue in the country’s capital.

Meanwhile, PM Prayut has recently asked people to avoid large gatherings out of what he says is “concern” for their health after the recent cold spell from China hit the nation. But, more particularly, he pointed out political gatherings and has also asked everyone to adhere to social distancing and mask wearing to help curb the recent outbreak of Covid-19 that has swept the country in the past couple of months.

SOURCE: Bangkok Post

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