Haze to blanket Bangkok as open burning surges

Haze to blanket Bangkok as open burning surges

Bangkok will be blanketed by hazardous haze for the next three days thanks to farmers burning sugar cane fields, according to the Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation.

"We expect to see unhealthy levels of PM2.5 across the capital and surrounding provinces for at least three days as farmers burn fields prior to harvesting their crop," Siwat Pongpaichan, spokesman of the newly established Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation (CAPM), said on Monday.

"Sugar prices are very lucrative at present so farmers are rushing to harvest their crop by burning to save cutting costs," he added.

According to data from air monitoring stations, PM2.5 levels in three Bangkok districts on Monday exceeded the government's safe threshold of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³).

The dust level in Thawi Watthana was recorded at 60 µg/m³, along Soi Phetkasem 81 in Nong Khaem district it measured 57 µg/m³ and 51 µg/m³ near Bang Bon Market in Bang Bon district.

The PM2.5 level in Samut Sakhon province was even higher at 69 µg/m³, the highest level recorded in the country yesterday, according to the CAPM.

Launched this month, the CAPM said it used the latest satellite data from the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency, to determine the source of the haze and where it is heading.

Mr Siwat said while haze won't go away easily, it will be less severe this year thanks to rain from the La Nina phenomenon dispersing the fine dust particles.

To reduce the number of open burning hotspots, CAPM intends to launch a mobile phone application called "Burn Check" next week. Farmers in Chiang Mai will be required to seek permission to burn farm waste through the app, the CAPM said.

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