Seasonal haze prompts fresh round of curbs

Seasonal haze prompts fresh round of curbs

Bangkok is shrouded in haze as fine dust pollution returns to the city. Pornprom Satrabhaya
Bangkok is shrouded in haze as fine dust pollution returns to the city. Pornprom Satrabhaya

As the annual blanket of haze returned to smother our cities this month, prompting a renewed bout of head-scratching about how to combat the problem, people have begun to wonder whether the nationwide proliferation of hazardous PM2.5 can ever be brought under control.

One such measure was the Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation's request for all state officials in Bangkok to work remotely from last Thursday until tomorrow as part of its seasonal slew of measures ostensibly targeted at reducing vehicle emissions in the city.

Emissions are one of the chief causes of the problem, particularly when coupled with the annual reduction in atmospheric air circulation at this time of year.

It is the latest initiative in the government's efforts to reduce levels of the hazardous particulate matter which usually also peak in northern provinces where slash and burn farming is a problem. A fresh round of measures has been imposed to control this method of farming, which is seen as another key cause of the PM2.5 problem.

In a bid to harness technological know-how as it combats the pollution menace, the Pollution Control Department has launched a tool for predicting PM 2.5 in advance using software and systems offered by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (Nasa).

The SERVIR-Mekong project, which began last year in cooperation with Nasa and the US Agency for International Development, has launched the Mekong Air Quality Explorer website. it will use data from satellite and air-quality measuring ground stations belonging to the PCD.

In tests so far, it has been shown to provide a 70% accurate, three-day forecast of the PM2.5 situation, which it is hoped will inform policymaking aimed at introducing long-term measures to bring pollution under control.

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