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Air Pollution

Big farm companies causing the smoke problems in the north

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Big farm companies causing the smoke problems in the north | The Thaiger
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by Chularat Saengpassa, Sakaorat Sirima

Experts see little changing, even after Prayut’s visit to Chiang Mai today, and blame the government’s policy to push corn cultivation. The PM is in Chiang Mai today speaking to provincial governors.

But eminent medical specialists based in Chiang Mai are warning that the health impacts from prolonged exposure to smog are real and urgent tangible solutions are necessary.

Prof Dr Chaicharn Pothirat, a medical specialist in lung diseases at the CMU Faculty of Medicine, power the question…“Will the PM engage a ‘giant firm’ in addressing the problem?”

According to him, corn plantations are now the major cause of air pollution. Many corn farmers have cleared unwanted weeds from their plantations using fire to ease the work of harvesting by hand or expensive machinery.

“And a big firm buys corn from these farmers. This firm should show responsibility,” Chaicharn said.

The medical lecturer lamented that Prayut’s visit to Chiang Mai would not really help ease the smog.

“He will spend just a few hours here. So, I think it’s more like a PR stunt.”

Chaicharn says the government policy to encourage farmers to grow corn after the rice season might have also contributed to the current serious smog crisis. At present, there are 7 million rai of corn plantations in the country. The North is the biggest grower, accounting for 4.5 million rai of corn fields. Chaicharn’s colleague, Dr Rungsrit Kanjanavanit, who sits on the Chiang Mai working panel on fighting air pollution, said he had put forward four demands to the PM.

“Don’t just say you have not seen any health impacts from the dust yet. Health problems associated with air pollution will become visible in the long run, the same way smokers will feel the adverse impacts from their cigarettes,” Rungsrit said.

Smog is associated with respiratory disorders, heart diseases, skin irritation and more. Chiang Mai has been struggling with heavy air pollution for a few months already.

The amount of PM2.5 – particulate matter no more than 2.5 millimetres in diameter – in the province has been usually above safe limits. Despite loud complaints every day by people who know about the smog’s dangerous impact, an end to the problem is not yet in sight.

At present, agricultural fires are identified as the main cause of smog. Rungsrit said the Chiang Mai governor should have made better preparations because he must have known from the very beginning that hotspots caused air pollution every year.

“Don’t just talk, otherwise the problem will recur.”

Chiang Mai is not the only northern province suffering under the smog crisis. Neighbouring provinces are also facing the same predicament. Calls for the Upper North to be declared a smog disaster zone are growing louder now, and the region’s smog-generating forest fires soared to 3,088 hotspots.

Deputy National Police commissioner Pol General Srivara Ransibrahmanakul said police had already arrested 230 suspects for setting fires in forests.Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai and Mae Hong Son yesterday continued their calls for urgent donations of N95-grade face masks for public distribution.

Big farm companies causing the smoke problems in the north | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: The Nation

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Air Pollution

Government claims they’re serious about northern air pollution

Jack Burton

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Government claims they’re serious about northern air pollution | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Thai PBS World

Thailand’s northern provinces, particularly Chiang Mai and Chiang Rai, suffer mightily during the annual plantation burning season, infamously known as “smoky season,” when farmers there and in neighbouring Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia burn their fields in preparation for the next harvest. The season lasts from January to April, and during that time Chiang Mai often rates as having the worst air quality in the world. But now the government says it’s taking air pollution seriously and aims to clean up the North.

Chiang Mai’s air quality problems have been a consistent issue, since the northern Thai city was declared ‘most polluted city in the world’ on March 10, according AirVisual.com. The city has ‘won’ the accolade on more than 10 days this year. Adding to the problem, in March and April this year were the forest fires challenging local authorities in the mountains around the city.

Government spokeswoman Narumon Pinyosinwat expressed gratitude to the Chiang Mai Breath Council for its concern on smog in the North and gave assurances the government is earnest about solving the problem. Responding to the council’s demand for successful resolution she said the council makes a huge contribution by monitoring air pollution for the sake of public health.

“The government has tried to solve the problem and assigned local authorities to implement relevant measures. It is never distracted from the effort, despite the coronavirus pandemic.”

“The government is grateful for the Chiang Mai Breath Council’s campaigns for clean air. However, the problem cannot be solved by a single organisation. All parties must join forces. I believe that solutions will improve from now on.”

The government spokeswoman also said that Deputy PM Prawit Wongsuwon would visit Chiang Mai province today to follow up on smog solutions.

“The government understands that it may not be impossible for provincial and regional parties to solve the issue by themselves. We believe that if all parties join hands and watch out for wildfires, which are at the root of the problem and cause of the fine dust, air pollution will be relieved eventually.”

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Chiang Mai

The end of the annual crop-burning season – Chiang Mai gets some fresh air

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The end of the annual crop-burning season – Chiang Mai gets some fresh air | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Xanadu Pub and Bar

As the annual crop season in north Thailand comes to an end the only good side-effect of the whole Covid-19 outbreak is a drop in the number of fires and plantation burning activity in the past few months.

As a result, Chiang Mai’s Air Quality has experienced significant improvements, according to aqicn.org.

The website data shows that Chiang Mai air quality index reported PM2.5 levels of less than 100 particles per cubic metre for more than two weeks. 50 AQI is the general safety standard in Thailand (and 25 for the World Health Organisation upper limit of safe air quality. On some days in the middle of the highest readings the AQI reached about 500!

The AQI is a standard that indicates the level of air pollution.

• Level 0-50 means good air quality

• 51-100 means moderate quality

• 101-105 will affect sensitive groups

• 151-200 is slightly harmful to health

• 201-300 is highly harmful

• 301-500 means extremely dangerousThe end of the annual crop-burning season - Chiang Mai gets some fresh air | News by The Thaiger
For several days in the past two weeks, Chiang Mai’s air quality index has seen a decrease of more 50%, compared to the AQI levels at the same time in 2019. For two days in a row the northern city scored dubious distinction of having the world’s worst air quality.

April 30

2019 – Air Quality Index of 152 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 57

May 4

2019 – Air Quality Index of 158 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 56

May 12

2019 – Air Quality Index of 129 | 2020 – Air Quality Index of 69

Smog, smoke and haze have been a widespread public health problem in North & Central Thailand for over a decade. It typically occurs from January to April, but peaks in March as very dry conditions intensify the forest fires. It’s exacerbated by farmers who burn plantation waste to clear land for the next harvest season.

SOURCE: Samui Times

The end of the annual crop-burning season - Chiang Mai gets some fresh air | News by The Thaiger

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Coronavirus (Covid-19)

Bangkok, before and after. A birds-eye view.

The Thaiger

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Bangkok, before and after. A birds-eye view. | The Thaiger

Content creator Manit Monsur, a certified drone pilot, has taken to the skies of Bangkok giving us a unique insight into the sights, sounds and daily life of the Big Mango, before and now. Travel restrictions and business closures have severely impacted on the city’s ability to function. One of the biggest changes, he notes, is the clear skies above one of Asia’s busiest cities.

“Enjoy the empty Bangkok. Despite of the impact on the economy and lifestyle, Covid-19 is really the only thing that is helping reduce the pollution caused by big cities like Bangkok. Now that Bangkok and other big cities in the world sleeps, nature can finally recover from all the damage we human have made over the past hundreds and thousands of years.”

In his second video in the series “Bangkok Lockdown” Manit checks out more of the street life during the current city ‘lockdown’.

“So this week I went out again and shot more footages of the Central Bangkok. I went to Siam Paragon and Chong Nonsi Bridge this time. Watch the vlog for more information and enjoy the empty Bangkok. Despite of the impact on the economy and lifestyle, Covid-19 is really the only thing that is helping reduce the pollution caused by big cities like Bangkok.”

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