Drone zone: Smog battle takes to skies

Drone zone: Smog battle takes to skies

A drone produces water and non-hazardous chemical spray to diffuse the dust particles at Vachirabenjatas Park, also known as Rot Fai Park, in Chatuchak district during a test run on Tuesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)
A drone produces water and non-hazardous chemical spray to diffuse the dust particles at Vachirabenjatas Park, also known as Rot Fai Park, in Chatuchak district during a test run on Tuesday. (Photo by Patipat Janthong)

Authorities are toying with the idea of using drones to combat haze caused by PM2.5 which has shrouded Bangkok and its surrounding provinces for over two weeks.

A test run is being conducted this week, according to ACM Preecha Pradapmuk, director of the Defence Technology Institute (DTI), which is working with other state and public agencies to fight pollution using the remotely controlled aerial vehicles.

He said 12 drones were provided by private and state organisations for the test mission.

They were deployed Tuesday to spray water above Vachirabenjatas Park, also known as Rot Fai (Railway) Park, in Chatuchak district. Six drones were launched for each test run, he said.

They sprayed water 25 metres above the ground for periods of 30-40 minutes. The results showed they reduced dust particles by 10 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³) on average, ACM Preecha added.

If more favourable results are produced this week the drones will deployed above Vachirabenjatas and Chatuchak parks as well as areas around Phramongkutklao and Veterans General hospitals, he said.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has declared the test runs a success.

He said China had also used drones to combat haze, including spraying chemicals into the air.

"We need to seek various measures to deal with the issue," Gen Prayut said.

Pralong Damrongthai, director-general of the Pollution Control Department, said three measures aimed at combatting air pollution were decided upon at a recent meeting of the panel responsible for monitoring PM2.5 in Bangkok.

PM2.5 are fine dust particles with a diameter about one-third the width of a human hair. They have been proven to cause respiratory damage and can exacerbate other conditions such as cardiovascular disease.

Sources include emissions from open burning, power plants burning fossil fuels and diesel-fuelled cars.

Law enforcement will be tightened against those responsible for producing pollution, including vehicles with black exhaust fumes, he said, adding the inspection of public buses would be expedited.


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