The Pollution Control Department reports that exhaust fumes of about a third of large vehicles in Bangkok exceed emission standards. Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the PCD told a press briefing on PM2.5 air pollution on Friday.
The drivers of 2,525 of 7,101 large vehicles, mostly buses and lorries, pulled over for checks in Bangkok during a 12-month period were fined for violating emission standards. The emission standards inspections were carried from October last year to the end of this September.
Large vehicles have been blamed as one of the chief culprits behind small particle pollution. It is hazardous to health, as the incomplete combustion of diesel fuel produces significant amounts of the fine dust.
Mr Atthaphon said the PCD has decided to ramp up emission standards efforts to reduce air pollution from vehicles and the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Royal Thai Police and the Ministry of Transport have assigned 20 teams to monitor the capital’s roads.
The Department of Land Transport will also assign 14 teams to assist, the Bangkok Post reports.
Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang has already said that larger lorries — those with more than six wheels — will be banned from city roads from 6am to 9pm, from December until February.
PM2.5 levels began to rise again last month due to a high-pressure system blanketing the capital and preventing air from circulating.
Scania urges Thailand to increase emission standards
In January of this Swedish manufacturer Scania called for the Pollution Control Department to increase the emission standard for heavy-duty vehicles in Thailand from the current Euro 3 standard to Euro 6 as a means to fight with the ongoing air pollution in Bangkok.
It would also show that Thailand is serious about its quest to be recognized as the automotive hub of Asia.
Other Asian countries have already recognized the urgency to improve the air quality and are increasing their emission standards rapidly.
According to the statement, India for example plans to introduce its local version of Euro 6 (BS 6) next year and so is China (China 6a).
Introduction of Euro 6 emission standard
South Korea and Singapore have already implemented Euro 6 and this has already been the standard for new vehicles in Europe since 2013.
“Now Thailand has an opportunity to take part in this proactive movement and set a short and clear timeline for the introduction of Euro 6 emission standard in the Thai transport sector.”
Of course, there is a cost to a technology shift like this. The vehicles are more expensive and the refineries need upgrading to lower the sulfur content of diesel below 10 ppm.
However, with less air pollution the private and societal health care cost can be expected to decrease.
The Nation reported that according to a study from Kasetsart University on pollution-related health costs in 2017, every microgram of PM10 beyond the safe limit cost the people of Bangkok up to Bt18.42 billion in medical expenses.
In addition to that, the worth of increasing the lifespan of the people is invaluable. The Thai government could use subsidies, scrap-page scheme, tax and other financial control means to support the shift and see this as an investment in the people’s future health. Furthermore, improved export opportunities and innovation reputation for Thailand, are also positive effects that can be expected.
“At Scania we have set our strategy to lead the shift to a sustainable transport system and we are hoping to collaborate with the Thai government and relevant industry players to drive this shift together in Thailand and thereby improve the quality of life for the citizens of this beautiful country.”