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cavanami

Thailand pollution 2019

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Then current air quality is unhealthy! Here is info from an expert...thanks Chris Moore.

Bangkok Air Quality and Health

Tuesday 15 January 2019 and the real-time Air Quality Index (AQI) reads 168 for Bangkok. Little red flags dotted on a map of areas of the city. I’ve been curious as the sources of the air pollution. You can accept as gospel what you read online or in the press. I wanted to dig deeper into understanding the nature and danger of the main air pollutants. I decided to ask an expert with no axe to grind about understanding the causes of the pollution and assessing the relative health impact of each.

I reached out to an international expert Dr. Mark Jacobson, Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering and Director of the Atmosphere/Energy Program at Stanford University. Jacobson’s area of expertise is environmental engineering, air pollution and global warming modelling.

Professor Jacobson wrote me, that “The only way to determine the relative impact of each of the sources listed is 3-D computer modeling of air pollution that accounts for emissions, atmospheric chemistry, deposition, meteorology, radiative transfer, and cloud processes.”

The process is to run simulation with each source (e.g., dust, smoke from outdoor fires, vehicle exhausts, weather conditions) removed and this would establish a series of benchmarks based on any one particular source, which is causing the greatest impact. Professor said  “Such modeling is actually required by law in the U.S. under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 in, for example, ozone non-attainment regions. There are plenty of consulting companies that do this kind of work (AER, Environ, SAI, Sonoma Technology, Tetra Tech, to name a few in the California alone).”

Not all of sources of pollutions are equal in the damage done to human beings. Professor Jacobson observed, “that vehicle exhaust will cause the greatest damage because the human intake fraction of vehicle exhaust air is much greater than the intake fraction of pollution from a source far away. People are literally breathing in the exhaust. The other sources are more dilute.”

The PM2.5 or fine particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers should be less than 50 micrograms per cubic metres. The Bangkok Post reports “The PM2.5 measured 60-81mcg on the streets and 49-79mcg away from main roads.” https://www.bangkokpost.com/news/general/1610854/bangkok-air-pollution-remains-at-hazardous-levels

The best choice may be an unpopular one. We may have no choice, if supported by test results, to impose restriction on the use of cars, motorcycles, buses, vans, and trucks.  The immediate question is whether vehicle exhaust air has become a public health hazard setting up long-term adverse health consequences to the population breathing the polluted air. What is weighed in this equation: The cost of disrupting transportation system or diminishing the health of the resident population to preserve the economic infrastructure. In the future, we can expect to frequently confront the public policy dilemma between choosing between economic growth and public health.

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When I first came to Thailand in 1973, there were comparatively few cars in Bangkok (population c. 2 million). Traffic moved very fast, and most people traveled by buses, which were dirt cheap (1/2 baht) and provided very good service. Most people didn't need or want a car. Then as the city grew, cars suddenly became a status symbol. Surveys have shown that newly wed couples put buying a car ahead of buying a home or condo. The traffic becomes worse every year, but a car still seems to be a "must have". It wouldn't be so bad, if it was just one car per family, but that is not the Thai way. If a family has 4 or 5 people, they will "need" 4 or 5 cars.  Car pools to go to work? Nonsense, where is the status symbol in that? It's one car, one person.

It no longer make any sense to drive downtown, since not only do you face the massive traffic jams, but you probably won't be able to find a parking space when you get where you're going. Nevertheless, look at all the red plates (new cars) you see on the road. I bought my car when I lived in rural Banglamung and needed it to get around. Now that I'm back in Bangkok, it sits parked more often than not and I take the MRT and BTS, both of which are now getting to be almost as crowded as trains in Tokyo. The way things are going, Bangkok will soon be unlivable. I'm on the very edge of the city, in a quiet area with tree lined streets. But how long before the pollution reaches here too? 

Rural Thailand is still nice, and I may well end up moving to the North one of these days. Tourists don't stay very long in Bangkok now, instead heading for the beach or the mountains.  Can you blame them?

 

 

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Not wanting to dis LOS, but my experiences of Bangkok, from when I first started to travel to LOS (~30 yrs ago), were that there was only one reason to visit. 

The bars, well two reasons, the girls and the bars.

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14 hours ago, Flashermac said:

The way things are going, Bangkok will soon be unlivable. I'm on the very edge of the city, in a quiet area with tree lined streets. But how long before the pollution reaches here too?

Very interesting comment indeed. I have to admit since leaving Bangkok to return to New Zealand I do miss the place a lot and am always looking forward to my next trip back to Bangkok. I also often think whether at some point I might move back to Bangkok. When I return to Bangkok I really enjoy it for about the first 5 days as I catch up with old friends, visit old friends, eat in favourite eateries etc, but then the pollution, the crowds on the trains and hot+sticky weather get to me. There are always people moving on from Bangkok (although I bet they're replaced by newcomers to the city in much greater numbers) but I do wonder if at some people the number of people living becomes a tide because, as you say, Bangkok could at some point become unlivable.

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Well I look forward to my visits back home to Bangkok for the relatively cleaner air, it is a lot better quality than Thai Binh (189) Hai Phong (176) and Ha Noi (166) over here in Vietnam

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Yesterday, the Thai TV News showed that the masks were being handed out.

Also, the police have set up check points where the pollution being generated by trucks was measured and some tickets/fines were given out.

The Thai gov has installed some type of foggers to dispense water vapor to reduce the air pollution...

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