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As Haze Worsens in Bangkok PM Orders Polluting Vehicles Off the Road

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Thailand’s transport ministry has order vehicles with “dirty” exhaust emissions off the roads in Bangkok. As part of the measures to fight the haze plaguing the capital.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha said after a haze-fighting meeting on Tuesday that the Transport Ministry was assigned to this task. He told officials to vigilantly check for vehicles emitting black exhaust fumes and ban them from Bangkok roads.

The PM however didn’t give specifics on how this order would be carried out as Bangkok has 10.5 million registers vehicles on the road. He did however encouraged motorists to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

Thailand officials are notorious for issuing orders that are nearly impossible to implement. However the do make them look good and give the impression their actually doing something.

Meanwhile, the Pollution Control Department reported on Tuesday that particulate matter (PM2.5) was at extremely unhealthy levels in Bangkok.

Poor air quality has descended on Bangkok and surrounding suburbs threatening people’s health. The problem, which filled the headlines at the end of last year, has returned to parts of the capital over the weekend.

Readings up to 233 have been recorded this morning, well in excess of the 50 micrograms per cubic metre safety level. That means that the general air quality is now ‘very unhealthy’

The department advises small children, pregnant women, the aged and ailing people to stay indoors or to wear proper face masks if they have to leave their homes.

People can keep themselves informed with real-time air quality updates by logging on HERE.

Air Pollution and Haze

bangkok smog

Air pollution is not ugly, it’s downright dangerous. In fact, the World Health Organization estimates that each year 2 million people die prematurely from the poisonous gases that make up smog.

These include:

  • sulfur dioxide: a byproduct of coal burning
  • carbon monoxide: found in vehicle exhaust
  • carbon dioxide: found naturally, but has increased due to car exhaust and assisted global warming
  • nitrogen oxides: a byproduct of combustion from power plants, integral in the formation of acid rain
  • volatile organic compounds: solvents in household products that evaporate and cause health issues
  • particulates: the dark soot from air pollution that sticks to buildings
  • ozone: in the atmosphere, it protects us- at ground level, toxic
  • chlorofluorocarbons: the gas used in aerosol cans that is harmful to the ozone layer
  • hydrocarbons: released in the air, leading to smog or haze
  • lead/heavy metals: dispersed into the air through aerosols, fly ash and exhaust fumes

And it’s not just breathing problems that plague those in areas with high air pollution: symptoms can range from chest pain, headaches, nausea and increased sensitivity to allergens to aggravated heart disease, reproductive / neurological disorders and even cancer.

When discussing air quality and air pollution, the amount of particulates in the atmosphere is of the utmost importance, as they generally have the most adverse effects on human health.

The World Health Organization has isolated PM10 and PM2.5 as the most detrimental to human health (PM10 being particulate matter 10 micrometers or less, PM2.5 being particulate matter 2.5 micrometers or less). So I’ll mostly refer to these two factors in my comparisons.

Source: Bangkok Post, Thaiger, WHO

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