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Air Pollution

Thailand’s PM2.5 micron elephant in the room – OPINION

Tim Newton

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Thailand’s PM2.5 micron elephant in the room – OPINION | The Thaiger
PHOTO: Air pollution problem solved! This morning at Suvarnabhumi Airport - The Nation
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It’s cars, it’s the polluting buses, it’s people burning too many incense sticks. Every year it’s the same culprits in Bangkok, people driving their cars too much, polluting factories and old buses belching black smoke. All those things contribute to city pollution but are far from the main problem.

So the government, reactive as usual, rolls out its PR machine and invites the media to take photos of water cannons blasting thousands of litres of valuable water into the sky, doing precisely NOTHING to address the air pollution problem, beyond a short-term, extremely local solution. Very local indeed, and probably pleasing the assembled press as they enjoy a bit of overspray cooling them down. For the bigger air pollution problem, no help at all.

Even today the Bangkok media scrum was summoned to Suvarnabhumi Airport to get the story of the local airport solution where they’ve deployed water cannons that blast 144,000 litres of water per day about 50 metres into the air above the one of the airport’s ring roads.

“The trucks will be deployed at 10am, 11am, 1.30pm and 2.30pm at the duty-free zone and along the Suvarnabhumi 2 Road, as these areas have high numbers of trucks and other vehicles passing through during weekdays.”

We kid you not, there appears to some officials who actually think this grotesque waste of water is achieving something… anything, beyond a woefully useless media stunt.

“The airport has enforced pollution control regulations on all public vehicles running in theairport areas, which include taxis, shuttle buses, public buses, public vans and coaches. These vehicles were told to turn off the engine while waiting for passengers and make sure to have their vehicle condition checked regularly.”

All this obfuscation from officials and the government is completely ignoring the PM2.5 micron “elephant in the room”. Indeed, the oft-used “PM2.5 micron” word salad is just another way of confusing the public and shifting the narrative.

It’s smoke, smog, haze, air pollution. And most of it is coming from fires deliberately lit by farmers who are providing crops for Thai multi-nationals, mostly corn, rice and sugar. The cheapest way to clear the land for the next crop is burning it to the ground. The machinery to complete that task without burning is expensive. Of course it’s all about cutting costs, so lighting a fire and sending smoke into Thailand’s skies is much easier… f**k the environment and the millions of people that are affected by the months of smoke-filled air.

Even the Pollution Control Department (an oxymoron indeed!) and its daily missives about the air pollution problem completely avoid any discussion about the forest and plantation fires, burning mainly in central and northern Thailand, and over the border in Myanmar. The northerly and north-easterly airstream at this time of the year casually wafts the offending smoke south, affecting the capital and its 10 million residents.

Here’s today’s active fires in and around Thailand, clearly identified by NASA satellites with constant updates. You can see active fires in Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar, but there is a big concentration in central, northern and north-eastern Thailand.

Thailand's PM2.5 micron elephant in the room - OPINION | News by The Thaiger

There’s the evidence of where the smoke is coming from. Check out the link HERE. Pollution Control Department officials are able to click on the link too.

Or let’s go to the Air Visual map which lists the air quality around the country (or the world) any time of the day. It also lists some of the key fires burning at the time.

Thailand's PM2.5 micron elephant in the room - OPINION | News by The Thaiger

The information from Air Visual clearly shows the link between areas of poor air quality and the fires that are burning, also linked to the direction of the wind.

Bangkok’s slightly improved air quality readings today have nothing to do with the water cannons blasting water into the sky at Suvarnabhumi and everything to do with changed, favourable wind conditions. If the problem was ‘traffic’ then Bangkok, a city of some 10 million people, would always have worse air quality than all the provincial air quality measurement stations.

At some stage the Thai government and public servants will be forced to bite the bullet and admit that the annual pollution problem is what it is – a cover up to protect large and powerful multi-nationals and their agricultural pursuits.

Now that Thai celebrities and some concerned residents are starting to see through the mist and fog of the misleading PR, and posting these air quality maps, their own experiences, and lack of confidence in the officials to address the problem, there is hope that public shaming might finally bring about some honesty and long-term measures to face the PM2.5 micron elephant in the room.

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Read more headlines, reports & breaking news in Thailand. Or catch up on your Thailand news.

Tim Newton has lived in Thailand since 2012. An Australian, he has worked in the media, principally radio and TV, for nearly 40 years. He has won the Deutsche Welle Award for best radio talk program, presented 3,900 radio news bulletins in Thailand alone, hosted 450 daily TV news programs, produced 1,800 videos, TV commercials and documentaries and is now the General Manager and writer for The Thaiger. He's reported for CNN, Deutsche Welle TV, CBC, Australia's ABC TV and Australian radio during the 2018 Cave Rescue.

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Air Pollution

22 areas of Bangkok found with excessive PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere today

Greeley Pulitzer

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22 areas of Bangkok found with excessive PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere today | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A shroud of smog envelops Bangkok - Nikkei Asian Review

Bangkok was blanketed with excessive PM2.5 dust yesterday, measuring between 55 and 90 microns per cubic metre (µg/m3), above Thailands “safe” threshold of 50. Air quality has improved slightly today, with only 22 areas found to have PM2.5 dust above 50 microns. The limit set by the World Health Organisation is 25 µg/m3.

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) announced the levels of PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere today were measured between 38 and 79 microns, with excessive dust in 22 areas, including Lat Phrao Soi 95 in Wang Thong Lang district, which recorded the highest level, 79 µg/m3.

Bangkok Municipality spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said today that several Bangkok private schools couldn’t suspend classes because their students are in the middle of final exams and that they’ve been warned to wear face masks to school. All Bangkok public schools were ordered shut until Friday

Bangkok areas with excessive PM2.5 dust today include:

Tambon Hirunrujee in Thon Buri district
Kanchanapisek Road in Bang Khun Thian district
Tambon Bang Na in Bang Na District
Tambon Khlong Chan in Bang Kapi district
Tambon Din Daeng in Din Daeng district
Tambon Chong Nonsee in Yan Nawa district
Rama IV Road in Pathumwan district
Intharapitak Road in Thon Buri district
Lat Phrao Road in Wang Thong Lang district
Din Daeng Road in Din Daeng district
Tambon Plabpla in Wang Thong Lang district
Tambon Bang Kruay in Bang Kruay district of Nonthaburi

22 areas of Bangkok found with excessive PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere today | News by The Thaiger

GRAPHIC: Airvisual.com

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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Air Pollution

Cambodia burns, Bangkok chokes, schools closed

The Thaiger

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Cambodia burns, Bangkok chokes, schools closed | The Thaiger
GRAPH: The hourly updates show the active fires causing most of Bangkok's haze problems - FirmsModaps

Bangkok mums and dads will need to sort out what to do with the kids for the rest of the week after the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration closed public schools from today because of the excessive air pollution. Most of the smoke and haze is blowing in from Cambodia with light easterly winds.

All schools under the supervision of the BMA will close until Friday. Air quality in the capital has worsened over the past two days with Bangkok recurring the world’s 5th worst air pollution yesterday (today it is 10th). The forecast today is for light winds and poor air circulation which will compound the accumulation of PM2.5 dust and smoke particles.

In other measures City Hall is asking high-rise construction and electric train construction sites to suspend their operations until Friday.

And on the transport front Police have been asked to prevent trucks with six wheels or more from accessing the Ratchadapisek ring road until midnight on Thursday and to set up roadblocks to check vehicle exhaust emissions.

Most of these measures will do little to improve the overall situation as the poor air quality in the capital is caused by plantation burn-offs from sugar, corn and rice fields in the central, north and north-east, plus easterly airflows blowing in the same burn-off smoke from Cambodian farms.

Back in the city, district officials and municipal police will patrol open areas to make sure there is no burning outdoors, while city workers will spray water in the air and on roads to wash away dust.

The whole of Bangkok and its vicinity were found to contain excessive amounts of PM2.5 dust and smoke particles yesterday, measuring up to 188, nearly 4 times the upper safe limit imposed by the Pollution Control Department, and nearly 8 times the limit set by the World Health Organisation.

62 air quality measurement stations in Bangkok and neighbouring provinces, including Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani, show the health threatening levels of PM2.5, which exceed the 50-micron safety threshold. The highest level was found at Tambon Paknam in Muang district of Samut Prakan.

This morning the highest readings around Bangkok are 160 but out to the west, in the Ratchaburi province, readings are up to 208. Pattaya has readings up to 159. Up in the north, Chiang Mai has a reading this morning of 165, and central Thailand’s Kampaeng Phet measured the country’s worst today at 218. The windflower map shows the easterly winds blowing the forest and plantation smoke from Cambodia and Laos into Thailand. Chiang Mai is listed as the world’s 5th worst air pollution today.

Check out the actives fires, principally responsible for causing the air pollution around Bangkok today, HERE.

Read The Thaiger’s editorial about the air pollution ‘elephant in the room’ HERE.

Cambodia burns, Bangkok chokes, schools closed | News by The ThaigerCambodia burns, Bangkok chokes, schools closed | News by The Thaiger

Air pollution readings from AirVisual.com

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Air Pollution

Bangkok public schools closed until Friday due to air quality

Greeley Pulitzer

Published

on

Bangkok public schools closed until Friday due to air quality | The Thaiger
PHOTO: A thick haze envelops Bangkok - The Nation

Public schools in the Bangkok municipality have been ordered shut until Friday due to severe air pollution in the nation’s capital. Air quality in the city worsened today and the situation is likely to continue due to poor air circulation and accumulation of PM2.5 dust in the atmosphere. Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) spokesman Pongsakorn Kwanmuang said today that the city will ask high-rise and electric train construction sites to suspend operations until Friday, the second such move in recent weeks.

Police have been requested to stop trucks of six wheels or more from accessing Bangkok’s Ratchadapisek ring road until midnight on Thursday and to set up roadblocks to check vehicle emissions. Officials and police will patrol open areas to ensure there is no outdoor burning, and city workers will spray water into the air and on roads to wash away dust.

The whole of Bangkok and its vicinity were found to contain excessive amounts of PM2.5 dust this morning, measured at between 55-90 microns per cubic metre, according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD), higher than Thailand’s threshold of 50, wand well above the World Health Organisation’s standard of 25.

In the eastern province of Rayong, the PCD reported this morning that air quality readings showed levels of PM2.5 ranging from 58 to 118 microns in Tambon Huay Pong, Tambon Noen Phra, Tambon Tapong and Tambon Map Ta Pud in Muang district and Tambon Tha Toom in Sri Mahapo district.

The highest level of PM 2.5 was reported in the northernmost province of Mae Hong Son, at 125.

SOURCE: Thai PBS World

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