Air quality at Na Pra Lan in Saraburi, the country's largest rock quarrying and limestone mining area, is the worst in the country, moving ahead of the northern provinces and their annual haze, according to the Pollution Control Department's (PCD) recently released 2017 report.
The PCD monitoring station showed the amount of dust particles found in Na Pra Lan in Saraburi's Chalerm Prakiat district was 257 microgrammes per cubic metre, which beat the 237 recorded in the northern provinces.
"We are evaluating whether it will be possible to control a number of mining sites and limit the impact of their emissions, but further study must be done first. For urgent measures, we are asking for a commitment from operators on how they will help us deal with the problem," said Sunee Piyapanpong, head of the Pollution Control Department (PCD), adding that mining operators would be soon asked to turn up to provide solutions.
In 2014, the PCD declared the Na Phra Lan area a pollution-control zone after the amount of dust particles from rock mining shot up to 700 microgrammes per cubic metre. The situation has improved slightly during the past years. As a hub supplying rocks and gypsum that have fed heavy industry throughout the country for decades, there are six limestone mining sites and 38 mill stone plants in the area.
In terms of air pollution, the PCD found air quality in the northern region had improved after cooperation from local and state officials to prevent slash-and-burn activity on agricultural land. The total number of excessive haze days reduced from 61 to 38. The number of hot spots where farm waste burning was detected reduced by 47%, from 10,115 to 5,409 points.
River water quality improved across the country from 2016 figures. Water quality in the main 59 rivers rose to 86% from 80% in 2016. Meanwhile, the proportion of deteriorated water resources, such as rivers and ponds, also decreased from 20% to 14% last year. The top five cleanest rivers were the Upper Tapi River in Nakhon Si Thammarat, the upper part of the Lam Ta Klong River in Nakhon Ratchasima, the Lamchee River in Buri Ram, the Songkhram River in Sakhon Nakhon and the Sai Buri River in Narathiwat.
The overall quality of seawater also improved. Water quality scores went up to 96% from 91%. The proportion of areas with deteriorated water quality in Thai seas dropped from 9% to 4%. The cleanest seawater was found in Ao Saplee and Ao Thung Wau Lan in Chumphon province, Talay Waek, Koh Phi Phi's Ton Sai beach in Krabi and Ao Sa Mae San in Chon Buri. The worst seawater quality was detected at the river mouth of the Chao Phraya River in Samut Prakan, the Tha Chin River in Samut Sakhon and Klong Ta Khoei River in Surat Thani province.
The dirtiest river water was found in the lower part of Chao Phraya River, the lower part of the Tha Chin river in Samut Sakhon, the upper section of the Pang Rad River in Chanthaburi, the lower part of the Rayong River in Rayong and the Kwang River in Lamphun.
In terms of rubbish, the amount of household waste increased from 27.06 million tonnes to 27.40 (1.26%). However, the amount of waste which was sent to the disposal system increased by 22%. The amount of recycled garbage rose to 8.5 million tonnes from 5.8 million, up 47%, thanks to recycling campaigns.