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BANGKOK 24 February 2019 06:04
webfact

Lackadaisical approach in tackling pollution unacceptable

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Lackadaisical approach in tackling pollution unacceptable 

By The Nation

 

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More intensive measures and greater seriousness required to deal with a problem that has become a threat to public health
 

The junta-backed government needs smarter ideas, more than just creating artificial rain or spraying water, while an unhealthy smog has blanketed the capital this week. The actions taken by some of the government agencies over the past few days might be a psychological balm to reassure the people that their government is indeed doing something about this crisis, but their half-measures will not help solve the problem for the long run.

 

Hopefully, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will not call for prayers to cleanse the capital’s polluted air like his recent claim that his prayer could save the South from tropical storm Pabuk that lashed the region recently. Tackling the air pollution problem requires a scientific, not whimsical, approach. 

 

This is not just a regular winter fog but a deadly cloud of fine dust particles and other air pollutants that could be detrimental to the health of the people. The PM2.5 dust particles are fine enough to be absorbed in the human bloodstream through the lungs. This could cause chronic diseases such as asthma, cancer, heart disease and stroke in the long term if there is an extended exposure to air pollution. 

 

The authorities have failed to realise the real danger of air pollution, unlike obvious threats to people such as disasters and diseases that can kill people instantly. The impacts to our health from PM2.5 are more subtle, and because the damage does not become obvious until it starts to take a toll, most people and the authorities are underestimating the deadly threat posed by PM2.5 to people’s health. 

 

Dust particles stirred by construction activity and heavy pollution caused by traffic have been trapped in Bangkok’s air since last week. It has blanketed many areas, reducing visibility for commuters and inducing breathing difficulties for a lot of people, most notably those who work in the open air such as construction workers and street vendors.

 

Nearly a week since the PM2.5 level in Bangkok rose significantly and forming a thick layer of smog over the city, the air in Bangkok early this week remained severely polluted. According to the PM2.5 air quality index measured by an international air-quality monitoring website, it was as high as 396 in the capital’s Bang Khen district on Monday. The site forecast that Bangkok would face harmful levels every morning for the rest of the week because there was very little wind. While government agencies in the capital, including the Pollution Control Department and Bangkok Metropolitan Authority, have introduced measures to cope with the problem, the public is demanding more effective methods to deal with the situation.

 

At a personal level, individuals are advised to stay indoors as much as possible, especially the elderly, children and people already ailing; they should regularly monitor the air pollution level; wear an N95 facemask while outside as it filters out most PM2.5 particulates; keep house doors and windows closed at all times; change their clothes and take a shower immediately on returning home from outside; and drink lots of water. 

 

However, the government needs to change gears in the measures it takes to tackle the problem. There are plenty of suggestions from scholars and environmentalists for state agencies to clean the air. First of all, Thailand should update safe-air standards in line with World Health Organisation’s recommendations and set the air pollution emission standard for power-plant chimneys.

 

Second, the government should look at the source of the pollution – mostly the transport sector. Promoting the use of clean and renewable fuel in the transportation sector should begin now. The government should also improve public transit with broader access and more extensive coverage in order to reduce the number of private vehicles on the road. The public should also be educated on measures for energy efficiency. People should also do their bit in helping the government by opting to walk or ride bicycles instead of always using vehicles, and they must also switch to electric vehicles.

 

Third, the government should disseminate information efficiently so as to enable people to prepare and cope with the situation. Easy access to a pollution monitoring system is necessary. Interestingly, people in Thailand are mostly relying on a China-based air quality monitoring website instead of Thai agencies, which seem to be more difficult to access.

 

Source: http://www.nationmultimedia.com/detail/opinion/30362334

 
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-- © Copyright The Nation 2019-01-16
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1 hour ago, webfact said:

psychological balm to reassure the people that their government is indeed doing something about this crisis, but their half-measures will not help solve the problem for the long run.

either those agencies think these measures are long term, bad, Or they realize they are inadequate and are counting on public apathy and short attention span, worse

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When this damages tourism then and only then will measures be taken to deal with it. The scale of the problem is such that the countries administrators may need help from elsewhere, and this is not going to be solved overnight

 

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

Hopefully, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha will not call for prayers to cleanse the capital’s polluted air like his recent claim that his prayer could save the South from tropical storm Pabuk that lashed the region recently. Tackling the air pollution problem requires a scientific, not whimsical, approach. 

A good bit of piss-taking there with the reference to the PM, while pointing out that reality, not some eccentric approach is needed.

Whether that happens is highly unlikely as usual, until it gets to an even more critical level.

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37 minutes ago, Oziex1 said:

When this damages tourism then and only then will measures be taken to deal with it. The scale of the problem is such that the countries administrators may need help from elsewhere, and this is not going to be solved overnight

 

 Plus, this problem is not new to Thailand, IMHO the various agencies responsible to monitor this matter and to forecast dtea / places where will be heavy / very heavy are totally derelict in their duties and should be charged as such.

 

I just listened to a farang engineer familiar with such pollution, he mentioned that there is a multitude of well proven modern monitoring equipment plus well proven weather etc., based software programs which can alert authorities well in advance. Does LOS have any of this? Or it is 'out of order, parts not yet ordered'?

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2 hours ago, webfact said:

Tackling the air pollution problem requires a scientific, not whimsical, approach.

Nothing scientific about it!  Start with the vehicles that belch-out black smoke; crush them!  Educate the population that it's OK to switch-off the engines when visiting 7/11s and the big stores; I've seen cars with the engine running while the driver goes shopping for an hour, leaving a passenger in the car to keep cool and play with their phone.  Stop the local areas from burning rubbish; anything that's available is subject to being burnt, sometimes, black smoke covering the local community like a blanket, not to mention the awful smells.

 

When all that's sorted-out, the government can pat itself on the back for cracking the tip of the iceburg.  All that needs to be done then is to come-up with a slogan; how about, "Seven Dangerous Days For Your Health".  Of course, the slogan would have to refer to all 52 weeks, and not just when the Bangkokonians complain.

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1 hour ago, Lungstib said:

What needs to be said is this is not a problem limited to only Bangkok. Chiang Mai, Khon Kaen, Korat and most other large towns are developing under the same lack of rules or understanding that Bangkok did. The shortage of public transport and the growing number of 3 litre diesel engined pick-ups to transport one person to work is happening everywhere. Trucks carry open loads and drive on and off muddy building sites all over the country, a major source of dust in Chiang Mai. Factories release whatever they wish into the air with little chance of being charged. Just fixing Bangkok is not enough, a policy for the whole country is in order and needed starting yesterday.

What!! Don't forget that they recently announced that they had hit their emission targets so everything is fine and dandy!!😕😕😕

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If they cannot even take real action on plastic bags what chance do they have with air pollution?

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16 minutes ago, Moti24 said:

Nothing scientific about it!  Start with the vehicles that belch-out black smoke; crush them!  Educate the population that it's OK to switch-off the engines when visiting 7/11s and the big stores; I've seen cars with the engine running while the driver goes shopping for an hour, leaving a passenger in the car to keep cool and play with their phone.  Stop the local areas from burning rubbish; anything that's available is subject to being burnt, sometimes, black smoke covering the local community like a blanket, not to mention the awful smells.

 

When all that's sorted-out, the government can pat itself on the back for cracking the tip of the iceburg.  All that needs to be done then is to come-up with a slogan; how about, "Seven Dangerous Days For Your Health".  Of course, the slogan would have to refer to all 52 weeks, and not just when the Bangkokonians complain.

Good post - but you also know that in order to achieve all that, first, the police force needs to be sacked and an entirely new force of people brought in who can do the job of a real policeman!

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