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Air Pollution

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province

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Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Downtown Chiang Mai this morning. Where's the blue sky gone? - Neo
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It’s smoggy, smokey and generally unpleasant in northern Thailand today. But don’t take our word for it, look up to the skies around Chiang Mai or check the copious amounts of graphic evidence, freely available, about the seriousness of the fires, almost all deliberately lit, around the region.

“It’s been bad all morning and there’s a noticeable smell of smoke in the air now. I am sure it is not good for us”

The manager of a flower shop contacted The Thaiger and sent us a few photos of the Chiang Mai skies.

“We are used to seeing people walk around with face masks because of the coronavirus threat but now most of us are worried about the air pollution.”

Plantation burn-offs are a seasonal problem where the owners of rice and sugarcane crops, and other crops, burn the residual foliage and plants in preparation for the next crop. It’s the cheapest option for farmers. Despite threats and government policy, little is preventing the practice from continuing.

Read our editorial about the ‘smoke screen’ surrounding the fires and the air pollution problem HERE.

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Global Forest Watch

Whilst the air visual air pollution mapping officially registers Chiang Mai’s air quality at 178 this morning (that’s 178 particles of 2.5micron particulate per cubic metre), there are parts of the province registering way up into the 200s today, officially ‘Very Unhealthy’. Indeed Chiang Mai is today’s 9th most polluted city in the world, in the same company as cities like Dhaka, Delhi, Kathmandu and Mumbai.

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province | News by The Thaiger

SOURCE: Air Visual

Read more about the seriousness of Chiang Mai’s choking smoke today HERE.

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Thailand

New national haze forecast website gives 3 day forecasts at 70% accuracy rate

The Thaiger

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New national haze forecast website gives 3 day forecasts at 70% accuracy rate | The Thaiger

Thailand is getting a new national haze forecasting website that is capable of giving a 3 day forecast at a 70% accuracy rate. The Pollution Control Department is unveiling the “Mekong Air Quality Explorer” platform, which was named after the area is was originally designed to monitor. The PCD teamed with the USAID and NASA, the latter of which has permitted the use of its data from its GEOS-5 satellite-which ranks as one of the world’s most accurate parameters for gauging atmospheric levels of PM 2.5, black carbon and nitrous oxide.

Aekkapol Aekakkarararungroj, the project chief, helped develop the new model, which came as part of ongoing efforts to capture the overall picture in the Mekong Region, which has been strongly affected by the burning season in northern Thailand.

“From now on, anyone can access the haze website to check the PM2.5 situation in advance and the department will use the information to better implement measures to limit the impact of air pollution on people’s health and the local environment.”

Aekkapol says the forecasting website will also provide detailed nationwide air quality data right down to the district level, as it has begun importing air quality and PM data from its air monitoring stations in Bangkok and surrounding areas. Additionally, it is using data from 14 other provinces nationwide.

Today, PM2.5 levels are forecasted to be moderate with a small rise to be seen tomorrow in Bangkok, Samut Prakan, Nakhon Pathum, Samut Sakhon and Nonthaburi provinces. Aekkapol says people living in these areas should expect guidance from local authorities on the best steps to take to minimise their exposure.

Thailand’s PCD Director-General Attapol Charoenchansa says that further development is underway to enable an even more precise estimates, right to the sub-districts and individual highways.

SOURCE: Chiang Rai Times

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Air Pollution

Residents express health concerns as smog engulfs Pattaya

Maya Taylor

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Residents express health concerns as smog engulfs Pattaya | The Thaiger
PHOTO: The Pattaya News

Pattaya residents have expressed concern over air pollution, as the eastern coastal city finds itself engulfed in smog. The Pattaya News reports that the deterioration in air quality has been ongoing for a number of days, with a cloud of haze obscuring the bay and neighbouring islands.

Residents are advised to wear masks when outside and to limit outdoor exercise, according to officials, who have so far not clarified what the cause of the pollution might be. It comes as mass sugar cane burning is taking place in farming communities around the country, an activity that has caused air pollution problems in the past. While sugar cane burning is technically illegal, residents say the law is not strongly enforced, resulting in an annual rise in air pollution levels.

Residents express health concerns as smog engulfs Pattaya | News by The Thaiger

PHOTO: The Pattaya News

Netizens are urging the government to do more to prosecute farmers and large companies found indulging in the practice. They are also calling on sugar cane customers to reject burnt produce, in the hope it will force producers to use cleaner harvesting methods.

In the past, officials have pointed to tourist traffic, including airplanes, boats, and buses, as being a possible cause of the pollution. However, with air quality continuing to deteriorate, despite the current significant decline in air travel and tourist numbers, that hypothesis seems unlikely.

SOURCE: The Pattaya News

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Air Pollution

Crackdown on vehicles emitting black exhaust to tackle Bangkok pollution

Caitlin Ashworth

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Crackdown on vehicles emitting black exhaust to tackle Bangkok pollution | The Thaiger

Buses, trucks and other vehicles that puff out clouds of black exhaust could be fined and may even be suspended from driving on the road. The Pollution Control Department says the government plans to tighten vehicle inspections in Bangkok to tackle air pollution.

In Bangkok, the air quality fluctuates throughout the day and week. Recently, levels of PM2.5 in some areas have been considered unhealthy. The air pollutant PM2.5 is fine participate matter which can be harmful to people’s health at high levels.

The crackdown on vehicles emitting excessive black smoke is intended to lower the levels of PM2.5, according to the department’s director general Attapol Charoenchansa. He adds that too much pollution is produced from diesel engine combustion.

Under Thailand’s Land Transport Act, vehicles that emit an excessive amount of smoke can be suspended from the road until the problem is fixed. Attapol says the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment will “intensify” measures to tackle the pollution.

In past inspections, thousands of vehicles have been found to emit black exhaust, but only a portion of them have been fined. From October 2019 to September 2020, out of the 9,539 vehicles inspected, 7,010 emitted black exhaust, but only 2,526 were fined.

SOURCE: Nation Thailand

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