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Air Pollution

Bangkok halts construction of electric rail and highrises for 3 days

Greeley Pulitzer

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Bangkok halts construction of electric rail and highrises for 3 days | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A thick haze hangs over Bangkok - Chiang Rai Times
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The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration today ordered a 3 day suspension of the construction of seven electric train lines, highrise buildings and roads throughout Bangkok, in order to reduce PM2.5 pollution.

The Pollution Control Department reported this morning that 39 areas in Bangkok and four in its suburbs were found to have high levels of PM2.5 particles, measured to be between 37 and 76 microns per cubic metre, exceeding Thailand’s 50 micron safety threshold.

Lat Phrao Soi 95 in Wang Thong Lang district, Tambon Khlong Koom in Bung Koom district were the worst affected, with 76 microns, followed by 72 microns in Tambon Thung Song Hong in Laksi district.

City Hall’s spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said yesterday that high atmospheric pressure, compounded by poor air circulation, is preventing fine particles from dispersing, thus the need to suspend construction of major projects.

He said that activities not directly related to construction, such as interior decoration of highrise buildings, can continue, and that the city’s administration is coordinating with the Industrial Works Department to send inspectors to factories in and around Bangkok to check for excessive smoke discharge.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Air Pollution

Hazy days and Sundays – Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world

The Thaiger

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Hazy days and Sundays – Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Yuk! The smog returns, on a Sunday morning - Thai PBS World

“Unhealthy”. That about sums up the air Bangkokians are breathing this morning, a situation almost completely avoidable but allowed to continue by the Thai Government. Bangkok is in bad company today with other polluted cities in Asia – Lahore, Hanoi, Delhi and Dhaka – as the fifth most polluted city in the world, a headline the Thai Government would prefer to avoid.

Hazy days and Sundays - Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | News by The Thaiger

Right around the capital this morning, a day of the quietest traffic, and stretching around the central Thailand region and down to Pattaya, the smoke and haze caused by the plantation burn-offs is palpable as people try and find some respite from the poor air quality.

The northern airflows are blowing all the smoke from the field fires lit by farmers back into the city today. The city, already in a mild panic over the Coronavirus cases in Thailand, is short on masks and probably even shorted on patience as the Thai Government continues to put lives at risk by doing little about solving the smog crisis.

Let’s be clear, this has almost nothing to do with old buses and factories, and burning incense sticks (all which have been blamed in the past), and EVERYTHING to do with the annual burn-off season, mostly sugar cane, corn and rice fields.

Even the sugar industry, the source of much of the pollution, has been pro-active enough to offer solutions to encourage, or force, farmers into harvesting the crops and using machinery to prepare the paddocks for the next crops, instead of resorting to the cheap solution of burning.

Sugar factories are campaigning to cut and harvest raw sugarcane, instead of boring it first, for processing. The conglomerates are recommending that the government offer funding at low interest rates to farmers to buy harvesters as the prices of the equipment are quite high (6-12 million baht).

The Thaiger has published countless articles over the past few years about the pollution problem HERE, HERE and HERE. There’s even been a ‘crackdown’ on the plantation fires with police being given the power to prosecute farmers who continue to light the fires.

“National Police chief Pol General Chakthip Chaijinda has ordered deputy chief Pol General Suwat Jaengyodsuk to be the central administrator of these measures. They are to be enforced at traffic routes, industrial factories, construction sites and burnt crop fields where the PM2.5 comes from nationwide.”

But here we are, on a Sunday, in one of the world’s most visited cities by tourists from around the world, enveloped in choking pollution that measures up to 4 times the Thai Government’s own classification of a safe upper limit. And up to 8 times what the World Health Organisation deems as ‘safe’.

Hazy days and Sundays - Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | News by The Thaiger

If the map readings of Unhealthy and Very Unhealthy aren’t enough to scare a Thai Government public servant into action this morning, perhaps they should just look out of their windows at the pall of smoke descending on the city. Or perhaps they should go and greet some arriving visitors at the country’s largest international port, Suvarnabhumi Airport, where this morning’s reading is 205 microns (of 2.5 micron particulate per cubic metre of air).

Welcome to Bangkok.

PS. If the police need any help to find where the fires are burning, 1) look for the smoke or 2) log onto the NASA satellite fire map HERE (screenshot below) for some live data about fires burning around Thailand. Hundreds and hundreds of fires.

Hazy days and Sundays - Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | News by The Thaiger

Hazy days and Sundays - Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | News by The Thaiger

Maps courtesy of AirVisual

Hazy days and Sundays - Bangkok has fifth highest air pollution in the world | News by The Thaiger

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Air Pollution

2015 plan dusted off as North suffers severe pollution levels

Greeley Pulitzer

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2015 plan dusted off as North suffers severe pollution levels | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Students assemble dust detectors to be distributed at schools affected by PM2.5 air pollution - Somchai Poomlard, The Bangkok Post

All 77 of Thailand’s provinces have been told to adopt the 2015 disaster prevention and mitigation master plan to address the current PM2.5 air pollution crisis. The decision was approved by the cabinet this week after it was proposed by Interior Minister Anupong Paojinda. He says the 133 page plan contains guidelines for action on risk reduction, emergency response, international cooperation and restoration.

“The situation in individual regions varies, so governors are allowed to adjust the action plan to suit their local situations.”

The move comes after air pollution from seasonal fires set by farmers to clear their land rose to hazardous levels in four northern provinces this week. Levels of PM2.5 pollution exceeded the government’s threshold of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) in Lampang, Nan, Phayao and Phrae provinces. Thailand’s “safe” level is twice that of the World Health Organisation, 25µg/m³.

The real-time PM2.5 level surged to over 400µg/m³ in parts of Phrae and Chiang Mai provinces on Monday, a level considered ‘hazardous’.

The Pollution Control Department also reported Tuesday’s PM2.5 levels were building again in greater Bangkok after a few days of respite, though they remained below the safe threshold at 16-41 µg/m³ as of Tuesday morning.

Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon has ordered officials to “enforce stringent legal actions” against burning outdoor fires.

SOURCE: The Bangkok Post

2015 plan dusted off as North suffers severe pollution levels | News by The Thaiger

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Air Pollution

Haze and coronavirus killing tourism in northern Thailand

Greeley Pulitzer

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Haze and coronavirus killing tourism in northern Thailand | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Hazardous pollution levels and a China travel ban are hammering tourism in the north - Chiang Rai Times

It’s the smoke and Wuhan effect. Haze and the Novel Coronavirus are having a brutal effect on northern Thailand tourism. With numbers already low, China’s recent outward travel ban on tour groups coupled with dangerous haze levels are likely to hit tourism hard. Northern Thailand has a high proportion of Chinese tourists.

Residents of Nan province are concerned over the health hazard from the smog. At least one child care centre in Nan City has installed air purifiers to protect the children.

More than 80 hotspots have been reported in the province as farmland burning continues despite prohibitions on plantation burn-offs. The level of PM2.5 now averages 111 micrograms per cubic metre, more than double Thailands “safe” level of 50 micrograms (and four times the World Health Organisation’s upper limit of 25 micrograms).

PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai are even worse, soaring to 313 micrograms yesterday. Authorities expect the situation to worsen as burning is still widespread and uncontrolled.

Because of the high levels, agencies have launched a public relations campaign to inform people of how to protect themselves and how to help curb the problem, and urging them to stop burning.

Health officials recommend those with respiratory problems and young children wear face masks to protect against both PM2.5 dust particles and viruses.

Haze and coronavirus killing tourism in northern Thailand | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: Chiang Mai Times

The Tourism Council of Thailand says the Wuhan Coronavirus outbreak has hit northern Thailand tourism industry hard, causing tour cancellations and suspensions of tour services with an estimated loss of over10 billion baht across Thailand.

Manop Saejia, the head of a tour guide association in Chiang Mai, says he’s concerned about the effectiveness of the quarantine system.

“About 40 percent of Chinese tourists in Chiang Mai travel in group tours while the rest are independent. These independent tourists could spread the deadly virus if strict quarantine measures are not in place.”

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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