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BANGKOK 26 March 2019 11:08
jimgilly

Khon Kaen pollution and surrounding areas

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I see Khon Kaen has been having PM 2.5 levels equal to and even greater than Chiang Mai.  Does anyone know how far these high levels are spreading?  Is it affecting Kalasin and Roi Et or is it more isolated to jujst the immediate Khon Kaen area?

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Khon Kaen is now much worse than Chiang Mai with a recent AQI reading of 164 Unhealthy.  People in surrounding areas should also be concerned what the quality of air is in their area as it may also be in the Unhealthy category due to the proximity to Khon Kaen.  They need to put in equipment to also provide PM2.5 readings for Udon Thani, Kalasin and Roi Et but short of that there are smaller devices that can provide reasonably accurate readings.

 

 

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We have a place about 80km outside of Khon Kaen city and for the last week or so I've been unable to see the mountains around Phu Wiang which are normally visible from our house. Not very scientific I know but there's definitely something not right with the air quality.

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In Kalasin, Roi Et its been quite smoggy/smoky/dusty. I check the Khon Kaen PM 2.5 readings daily and when ts high there it feels/looks bad here. I grew up in the inland suburbs of Los Angeles in the 60's before smog devices and the pain in the upper chest, slight nausea, having low energy that recall having most of the summer as a kid is what I experience here when levels are red flagging in Khon Kaen. This is a good website with a fully zoomable world map and stations world wide reporting every 3 hours. Thailand does not stack up too well most days, only industrial North East China and India are worse most days:

 

https://waqi.info/

Edited by Shaunduhpostman

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I'm guessing with the combination of high levels of pollution in Khon Kaen and the fact it is persisting longer than a day or two, it is only reasonable areas within 100 kms or so will also experience high levels also.  It will likely fluctuate somewhat based on the time and day and wind direction but then you have to consider there are fires being lit in your immediate area which I am sure are occurring.  Hopefully, most of it is short-lived unlike Chiang Mai where the problem can go on well past April.

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It has been bad in Kalasin too..  I've been here 12 years now and never seen it so bad.   Burning sugarcane before harvest is the main problem ..  Time it introduce modern sustainable agricultural practices...  ..But I won't hold my breath! 

 

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1 hour ago, Laza 45 said:

Time it introduce modern sustainable agricultural practices...  ..But I won't hold my breath! 

Hold your breath! this is the "new" sustainable agriculture, present "government" has been paying folks to start growing sugar cane and get away from rice, obviously not a great deal of thought went into the plan, surely one of the reasons they are saying so little about it and doing so little! :wink:

Its only in very recent years that there has been a market for sugar cane, previously not much was grown here! 

Edited by CGW
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1 hour ago, CGW said:

Hold your breath! this is the "new" sustainable agriculture, present "government" has been paying folks to start growing sugar cane and get away from rice, obviously not a great deal of thought went into the plan, surely one of the reasons they are saying so little about it and doing so little! :wink:

Its only in very recent years that there has been a market for sugar cane, previously not much was grown here! 

Thailand has been growing sugar cane for many, many years and at one time was the second biggest producer  in the world after Brazil. Not sure if India has overtaken Thailand now.

Edit: Thailand is now in 4th spot behind China, India and Brazil with over 100 million tonnes produced.

 

Edited by emptypockets

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24 minutes ago, emptypockets said:

Thailand is now in 4th spot behind China, India and Brazil with over 100 million tonnes produced.

Yes, because sugar cane planting has been encouraged as I said, the crop total has doubled in the past ten years or so I believe, my wife's family used to grow rice in KK, after government incentives they now grow only sugar cane.

"MY2018/19 sugarcane production is forecast to increase to 130 million metric tons, up 2 percent from MY2017/18, due to expanded acreage (Figure 1.1). Farmers are likely to continue to expand sugarcane acreage as two new sugar mills are expected to begin operating in MY2018/19. Combined, the two new sugar mills will have a production capacity of around 40,000 tons of cane per day. These two new facilities are both located in the northeastern region which accounts for around 45 percent of total sugarcane production. This would increase the total number of sugar mill facilities to 56 mills, up from 54 operating mills in MY2016/17. The new sugar mills are likely to actively encourage farmers to expand sugarcane acreage in order to secure cane supplies. Additionally, the Hydro and Agro Informatics Institute expects that precipitation in 2018 will be 10 percent above normal, which will help maintain an average yield of 11-12 metric tons per rai (68-75 metric tons/hectare) for MY2018/19 sugarcane production. "

 

Sugarcane planted acreage increased significantly as farmers substituted cassava with sugarcane. At the same time, multiple sugar mills have increased their crushing capacity, particularly in the northeastern region of Thailand which has seen sugarcane production increase by 30 percent from MY2016/17. F

Edited by CGW
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So many factors involved in all this...

 

- increased awareness for a start, the air pollution has been a problem for many years but as it gradually affects the capital more and more, people are starting to take notice.

 

- intensive farming methods and pressure on tenant farmers to increase yield mean more crops from the same land, and the quick easy and cheap way of clearing stubble and undergrowth is by burning. Back in the day buffalo and cattle leisurely did the job. Not any more.

 

- new crops - maize/corn amongst others, mean the burning season lasts pretty much as long as the dry season these days. Something, somewhere, will always be burning. Sometimes from as early as November, and through to the end of April. That’s 5 months of the year.

 

- sugar cane, not just burning the stubble after harvest. But leaves are stripped pre-harvest and burnt as well. And the biomass from sugar cane burns fiercer and emits more particulates too.

 

- slash and burn, clearance of forest for more plantations, another factor.

 

- factories processing crops like palm oil, often boilers and the incineration process is inefficient, poorly regulated, giving off far more particulate concentration in the emissions than is possible with modern equipment.

 

- every village in Thailand you see trails of smoke from unsorted trash burning. Heavy metals, styrene, arsenic, you name it, going up in smoke. And the garbage dumps are no better. Smokeless incinerators? No chance.

 

- Climate change is causing some issues too. And thermal inversions trapping pollution under a blanket of warmer air at altitude, a major factor in the recent Bangkok problem. Convection usually sends the pollution into the upper atmosphere - out of sight, out of mind. Static high pressure systems, barely any air movement, and the problem is far worse down on the ground. We are seeing this more and more. And it’s a vicious circle - once the pollution is trapped at ground level, it reflects heat upwards, preventing even further the convection process.

 

- And all the time, economic growth means expansion, more vehicles, more power needed, more crops, with inadequate enforcement of emissions regulations in developing nations.

 

- On top of this, pollution knows no boundaries. Transborder haze has played a big part. Smoke from the burns in northern Cambodia, Isaan, travels 100s of kms if the weather conditions are right, polluting towns and cities right across SE Asia.

 

- Power generation with coal. Even waste-burning power stations exist. Burning poor quality plastics we Westerners actually pay Thailand to take off our hands, shipping it here for disposal.

 

- The construction industry, another big source of particulate pollution.

 

i could go on lol...

 

There’s a Facebook page about this if anyone is interested ... worth a browse. Pollution Watch Thailand

Edited by wedders
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Comprehensive waste management is needed in all areas.... it’s silly to piecemeal by focusing on only one waste stream where thailand fails so miserably in generating and managing pollution in general...

 

its really a lost cause b/c the vision and mindset to bring about sustained change is dorky lacking in leadership and decision-makers....

 

its like telling the police to start traffic enforcement when the mindset  is lacking the desire and knowledge on how to...

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Check out this real time pollution map

https://www.airvisual.com/earth

 

It has proven pretty accurate when comparing measured values

 

In Buriram i am measuring between 60 and 120 ug/m3 today and yesterday it was up to 230 at times (using a crosschecked sndway sw-825 pm2.5 meter).. so yes it is worse than in Bangkok right now,  but people don't realise it,  they think there is "fresh air in the countryside"

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I need some advice from long time Khon Kaen residents. I enjoy the city. I thought about moving there next year. Is this pollution news something that happens every year or something new. I don’t remember reading about Khon Kaen pollution before. I have heard about Chang Mai and other areas but Khon Kaen has always been nice when I visited and was I just not informed in years past or has something changed in Khon Kaen?  Please share your thoughts if you live in Khon Kaen or near there. 

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Recent memory tells me Khon Kaen has had issues with air pollution for a while now but can't say how far back you have to go.  All I know is right now PM 2.5 levels for the past month and a half have been higher and by quite a bit, over readings I have seen for Chiang Mai.  Definitely not a good sign going forward and it's starting to look like the areas for better quality air are getting smaller and smaller.  Time to rethink Thailand altogether maybe.

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8 hours ago, jimgilly said:

it's starting to look like the areas for better quality air are getting smaller and smaller.

Indeed,  and the smog season is starting earlier, and gets more severe and longer.  The only Thai area with consistently good air quality is in the south,  starting below Chumpon. Beware that Hua hin, Prachuap and including Chumpon often get hit with Bangkok smog when the wind blows south. Same story there,  people think they are at the sea side and breathing in fresh air.  That very much depends on where the air is coming from.  The air visual map is ideal to see where the smog is going.  On the gulf coast, Nakhon Si Thammarat and Songkhla have clean air most of the time. 

 

I advise everybody to buy a pm2.5 meter (laser based) costs about 1500baht, so you know the actual and local situation is good or bad, and you can decide if its responsible to do sports yes or no,  or if you should wear a mask outside,  turn on your air purifier inside etc (and to check that it actually works)

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