Hazy days to diminish 10% if new PM2.5 measures pan out

Hazy days to diminish 10% if new PM2.5 measures pan out

The Department of Pollution Control aims to reduce the number of heavily polluted days in metropolitan Bangkok and 17 northern provinces by 10% next year by strictly controlling sources of PM2.5 fine dust.

Department chief Pinsak Suraswadi said at a press conference yesterday the national environment board and the cabinet have agreed on an ad-hoc plan to mitigate haze pollution next year.

The main focus will be on three areas, namely urban, agricultural, and forest zones, with different actions to be taken for each.

Mr Pinsak said 63% of haze pollution in the city is caused by traffic, so the department will work closely with its partners such as the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to set up more checkpoints to examine black smoke from vehicles.

It will also offer low-sulfur dioxide petrol from Bangchak and PTT stations in a bid to reduce the tiny particles during the haze season.

Moreover, it will conduct thorough checks on all 896 coal, iron-making and cement plants in the capital and its neighbouring provinces to ensure they maintain the correct emissions standards.

These plants are regarded as the main sources of PM2.5 emissions from the industrial sector.

Regarding the so-called agricultural zone, Mr Pinsak said the department of agricultural extension has set a goal of reducing the number of pollution hotspots in farming areas in 62 provinces by 10% next year as it works closely with 17,640 farmers to stop them burning their fields.

Some 19,599 hotspots have been recorded this year but if the target is met, that number would drop to 17,639 in 2023. Active measures include trying to reduce purchases of burnt sugarcane from newly harvested fields by 20% next year, and wiping this trend out entirely by 2024.

For forest zones, Mr Pinsak said all efforts are being made to limit the number of forest fires by limiting the sources of fuel that feed them, with one goal being to remove and destroy 3,000 tonnes of dried leaves and branches.

A Fire Danger Rating System will also be applied to assess the risk of such fires breaking out. This is expected to reduce the number of flash forest fires by 20%.

"We have been expecting to see the level of haze worsen next year due to the protracted cold weather and declining influence of La Nina. Those are factors beyond our control," he said.

"That's why we've come up with aggressive measures to control or limit the man-made sources of pollution. If we see good cooperation from all our partners, especially the general public, the situation won't get worse next year," he said, adding this could shrink the number of heavily polluted days by 10%.

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