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.
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.
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.Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Air purifiers to be added to the top of Bangkok buses. Really…
“It is like a single dead pixel on your phone, hardly noticeable”
Air purifiers sitting on tops of buses. Apparently this is another solution for Bangkok’s air pollution problems. Sounds like the people selling the mobile bus-top air purifiers have a very convincing sales person!
But Bangkok’s Mass Transit Authority director Surachai Eamvachirasakul says the department will go ahead with plans to install the air purifiers on top of Bangkok’s public buses. The promise is that it will reduce dust pollution. The air-filtration systems which will be installed on top of some of the state-operated buses are said to be capable of sucking in polluted air and blowing out clear air behind it. The director cited several test runs of the system as “evidence”.
“The device is capable of filtering 10,000 cubic metres of air per one trip. Scientific research indicated that an adult would breathe in an average 0.5 cubic metres per hour, so a bus would be able to provide clear air to more than 20,000 people on the road.”
This fuzzy maths shows an appalling ignorance of the larger pollution problem, most of which comes from plantation fires to the north of the capital – little to do with any local city contributions.
Even Chulalongkorn University biologist Jessada Denduangboripant says the plan “will have a near-zero impact on the PM2.5 dust particles”. Near zero. That’s a much closer estimate of the effectiveness of strapping air purifiers to the tops of the buses. Better still, don’t run the polluting old diesel buses in the first place which may cause more pollution per kilometre than the air purifiers could ever ‘filter’.
“If it is working as claimed, I believe it will only be capable of cleansing just a pixel of Bangkok,” Jessada said to Khaosod English.
Another scientist opined that the effectiveness of the air purifiers “would be trivial at best”, given the amount of air in the capital city against what the machines could process.
Matipon Tangmatitham, a researcher at the National Astronomical Research Institute of Thailand got out his calculator.
“Based on the area of Bangkok and the height of dust particles from the ground, it gives out 1.568E+12 cubic metres of air that needed to be filtered. But the scheme would only produce 20,000 cubic meters of clean air, even when all the 500 buses are on the road.”
(And how much pollution is caused by the 500 buses cruising around the city?)
But BMTA director Surachai hit back at the scientists with a test result he gathered, which compares PM2.5 level before entering the device at 48-52 AQI with 1-5 AQI after passing through the device.
In truth, the effectiveness of the system would be almost impossible to calculate on a city-wide situation. A few extra kilometres of wind strength from the north on a day of burn-offs in the north would blow the pollution readings off the scale, completely obliterating any tiny improvements made in the immediate vicinity of the passing bus.
SOURCE: Khaosod English
Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Chiang Mai blanketed in smoke as fires burn around the province
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.
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.
SOURCE: Air Visual
Read more about the seriousness of Chiang Mai’s choking smoke today HERE.Keep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
Bangkok halts construction of electric rail and highrises for 3 days
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 WorldKeep in contact with The Thaiger by following our Facebook page.
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