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Thailand’s air quality measurement standards raise concerns

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Thailand’s air quality measurement standards raise concerns | The Thaiger

by Chularat Saengpassa

From next month, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) will set PM2.5 particles as an indicator of Thailand’s air quality, but the move does not ease the concerns of people in the know.

“I must tell you that the PCD intend to use the ‘24-hour mean’ as the indicator and that may be misleading,” said Tara Buakamsri, the country director for Thailand at Greenpeace Southeast Asia.

He pointed out when the quantity of PM2.5 particles was calculated across a 24-hour period, it could sometimes hide the fact that air pollution had reached an unsafe level during some hours of the day.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), about 7 million people die every year because of exposure to both outdoor and household air pollution. Since 2013, WHO has described PM2.5, a tiny particle that is 2.5 microns or less in width, as carcinogenic. PM2.5 can easily enter the respiratory system, lungs and blood vessels.

In Thailand’s Chiang Mai province, 950 people were rushed to Chiang Dao Hospital’s emergency department between March and April in 2016 and 2017 as the province suffered a serious smog crisis. The patients were diagnosed with emphysema, ischaemic heart disease, stroke and lung inflammation. Of that group, 68 died. Another 477 locals died in the same period.

“We cannot say that they died of pollution but statistics show that when the amount of PM2.5 rises by 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air, the death rate rises by 0.15 per cent,” said Professor Chaicharn Phothirat, who heads the Department of Internal Medicine, Faculty of Medicine, at Chiang Mai University.

Thailand's air quality measurement standards raise concerns | News by The Thaiger

Chaicharn said his studies also found links between the soaring volume of PM2.5 and PM10 particles, and hospitalisations. PM10 refers to particles whose diameter is no more than 10 micrometres. PCD, an official government agency, has for more than a decade judged air quality solely on the basis of PM10 indications.

But last year, Greenpeace brought public attention to Thailand’s failure to include PM2.5 in its official air-quality monitoring, and thus not fully reflecting actual risks in many provinces. As air pollution has become increasingly visible in the form of smog, the Greenpeace position received widespread attention. PCD felt the heat and revisited its air-quality criteria.

Currently, about 28 air-quality monitoring stations in Thailand are equipped with devices to measure the amount of PM2.5. Before the end of next year, as many as 53 stations should have had the devices installed. PCD director-general Sunee Piyapanpong said that starting from next month, people would be able to check air quality by themselves via the Air4thai application and http://air4thai.pcd.go.th.

The app is compatible with both Android and iOS devices. Sunee said when people get updates about air quality, they will then be better able to protect themselves.

As of Saturday morning the Air4Thai App measured Chiang Mai’s Air Quality Index at 44 and ‘good’, Bangkok’s AQI at 62 and ‘moderate’, Phuket’s AQI is 33 and ‘good’.

SOURCE: The Nation Weekend

Thailand's air quality measurement standards raise concerns | News by The Thaiger



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Bangkok

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling

Bill Barnett

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Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | The Thaiger

by Bill Barnett of c9hotelworks.com

PHOTOS: Rosewood Bangkok

For hotel owners and managers in South East Asia, one of the great mysteries of the past ten years has been the low rate profile of Bangkok’s luxury hotel set. Despite soaring and sustained tourism growth, rising airlift and a strong economy, rates at Bangkok’s top tier properties have remained fairly stagnant.

Have we reached the tipping point?

I had had the opportunity to visit the latest entry to the Bangkok luxury class a few days ago, the Rosewood. With 159 keys which includes a limited number of posh houses with private pools and terraces the property is seeing an exceptional response and already achieving high rates.

What’s impressive about the entry is a take on the design approach that sees hotel developers apply a non-uniform approach with AvroKO coming in to focus on the restaurants and bars, while the rooms and public areas were led by Celia Chu Design and Associates.

While the speakeasy Lennon’s has not be opened yet, the 6,000 record vinyl collection is impressive and the bar will clearly have a strong pull. Taking the approach to designing restaurants and not typical hotel outlets, the Chinese eatery Nan Bei is a breath of fresh air and limited seating provides a bespoke appeal.

Taking a step back, and looking at recent entries like the Waldorf Astoria, and upcoming 101 key Capella, what is clear is luxury properties are shifting in terms of key drivers of the segment of art, fashion, residential vibe, bar and restaurant offerings, wellness and events.

So, what about rates?

On a broad basis Bangkok’s top tier hotels have averaged rates of US$200-240 for the past few years. This set has seen longer serving properties such as the St. Regis, Kempinski, and Okura effectively flatline on rates, though newer entries have come up including the Park Hyatt. On the broader horizon is the return of the Four Seasons and Capella by the river and the Orient Express at the MahaNakhon skyscraper.

With the entry of Rosewood driving rates, my expectation is that a few of the set will follow and at the end of 2019 we will set limited number of hotels crash through the US$300 average room rate barrier and effectively smash the legacy glass ceiling of Bangkok’s luxury hotels.

As in any business there will be winners and losers. Smaller hotels with some rate leading premium key types will be able to push up average daily rates. Segmentation is another key and hotels on the river that lack substantial corporate numbers will remain challenged until transport links to the area improve.

Where in the world are Bangkok luxury hotels heading?

To sum up 2019, size and location matter, the shift on food and beverage and social events along with niches like wellness and  smaller meetings/weddings are the key to the future. As for the quantum leap in rates, it’s about time Bangkok hoteliers be confident and push rates towards a more global norm.

Bangkok luxury poised to push through the US$300 ceiling | News by The Thaiger

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Bangkok

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport

The Thaiger

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Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | The Thaiger

The Thai cabinet yesterday approved the construction of a third runway at Suvarnabhumi International Airport as part of the country’s ambition to become the aviation hub of ASEAN.

The 21.7 billion baht project will increase the combined capacity of Suvarnabhumi international airport’s runways to 94 arrivals and departures per hour from the current 64, said Lt-Gen Weerachon Sukonthapatipak, deputy government spokesman.

Suvarnabhumi Airport (aka. BKK) was opened in 2006 as Bangkok’s second airport. Initially it replaced the tired Don Mueang Airport but Don Mueang was later revamped as a low-coast airport to service the growing traffic demands.

Meanwhile Suvarnabhumi Airport was, and still is, operating above its designed capacity. An earlier bid to build a third terminal has been mired in controversy and is currently shelved pending a new brief from Airports of Thailand with a new round of design bids called for in the future.

Third runway for BKK Suvarnabhumi Airport | News by The Thaiger

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Newborn baby dumped beside garbage bins

The Thaiger & The Nation

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Newborn baby dumped beside garbage bins | The Thaiger

FILE PHOTO

A newborn baby has been found abandoned near rubbish bins in Chon Buri province, south-east of Bangkok, earlier today.

18 year old city sanitation worker, Anucha Boonkhai, has told police that he had loaded garbage from all the bins on Soi 4 of Ban Kao village in Tambon Ban Kao, Muang district, when he spotted a pile of towels. He checked and found a baby boy, whose umbilical cord was still attached still smudged with blood, wrapped in one of the towels.

The baby was alive but had been bitten by mosquitoes and insects so he called an emergency unit of a hospital and then informed police.

Police are now checking footage from security and CCTV cameras in the area to try to identify the mother or person who had dumped the newborn baby.

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