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Experts Warn Over Thailand’s Upcoming Haze Season

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As the Thai government prepares to reopen the country to foreign visitors, environmentalists and academics worry over the upcoming haze season. In Bangkok and the Central region, haze usually coincides with the winter months.

Environment experts and academics say the government needs to heighten its pollution regulations to better deal with the haze problem at its source. Furthermore, to protect the people’s health against harmful PM2.5 particles.

Environmental expert Sonthi Kotchawatt told a forum that authorities don’t seem to be preparing for this year’s haze as they should. Mr. Sonthi said Haze in Bangkok and other cities in Thailand may reach levels unseen in the past two years.

In Bangkok and the central region, the concentration of fine particulate matter (PM2.5) in the atmosphere reaches dangerous levels during the winter months that bring cooler, denser air. The cooler denser air prevents pollutants from dispersing in the atmosphere.

Northern Thailand Haze Problem

In the Northern provinces, the haze usually starts in March and lasts until May. This is when fires are created for land clearing for agricultural purposes. Forest fires are also started by hill tribespeople to promote the growth of highly-priced wild mushrooms.

Mr. Sonthi said “the government has measures to mitigate the haze problem however, we have seen from previous years, the enforcement of these haze measures is extremely weak. Every agency works separately, causing confusion that leads to a disorganized effort to combat the haze problem.”

He called on the Ministry of Public Health, Industry, and Natural Resources and Environment, to be far more proactive. He also urged Thailand’s Pollution Control Department to lower its PM2.5 safe exposure threshold.

The burning of agricultural waste is known to be a major contributor to the smog in Northern Thailand.  Mr. Sonthi said measures are needed to stop farmers from burning their fields after harvest.

Meanwhile, Athapol Charoenshunsa, Thailand’s Pollution Control Department director-general said his department is drafting a plan to prepare for Thailand’s upcoming haze season.

Mr. Athapol said, “we have evaluated the outcomes of previous years’ haze control efforts and have come up with a plan for this year’s haze season. There will be many upgrades and improvements, he said.


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