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Smoke, Smog, Dust 2012 Chiang Mai


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[The question for me is why does it suddenly get better after two or three days intense pollution, do the people suddenly stop burning, do the winds shift, do the authorities go out there and do something we don't see, if I look at the number of dots on the firemap over the past few days I don't see any decrease in the number of dots?

Usually it is the presence or absence of an inversion layer.

Good thought, is there anyone out there with the interest and knowledge to explore/comment upon that aspect perhaps? I reckon it would be really really helpful if we could arrive at a point where there was a greater degree of predictability to the pollution problem other than its' February (or whatever month).

Agreed; I think we all also agree it's weather circumstances that impact it, not any increase or reduction in field burning, which is pretty much a constant across the greater region.

I'm not sure about that, an earlier poster suggested the fire map showed decreased activity, if so, why? However I do agree that the weather at this time of year, be it wind currents or thermals, do play a larger part in this issue than has been previously agreed.

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Sorry, if you don't get the basic facts right then none else you write makes sense.

Wow. How rude are you? What facts are wrong here? This problem is getting gradually worse over time and the areas getting burnt are also increasing. So in the number of cars and traffic and industry along with population growth.

Also you need to check you English in that sentence if you are being so picky. And, yes I have read the topic thank you.

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Sorry, if you don't get the basic facts right then none else you write makes sense.

Wow. How rude are you? What facts are wrong here? This problem is getting gradually worse over time and the areas getting burnt are also increasing. So in the number of cars and traffic and industry along with population growth.

Also you need to check you English in that sentence if you are being so picky. And, yes I have read the topic thank you.

Relax, I think you might benefit from reading post #136, that will confirm to you that pollution in CM is not getting worse, it's actaully getting better, if you chose not to believe those stats however, that's a different converstaion.

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Sorry, if you don't get the basic facts right then none else you write makes sense.

Wow. How rude are you? What facts are wrong here? This problem is getting gradually worse over time and the areas getting burnt are also increasing. So in the number of cars and traffic and industry along with population growth.

Also you need to check you English in that sentence if you are being so picky. And, yes I have read the topic thank you.

If you "have read the topic", please reread post #136 above, in particular looking at the fourth picture/graph. Maybe you can get somebody to explain it to you. The problem is NOT getting worse, the situation has been dramatically improving for the last 7½ years. At least this is true in Chiang Mai, which is what we are discussing in this forum.

/ Priceless

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specifically it does seem to be getting better in those two data collection locations for PM 10. In good conscious we shouldn't be saying its getting better in other locations because we just don't know. Most of the growth is away from the old city location.

The quality of vehicle emissions from new cars could wholly explain the trend for the old town monitoring station.

We still don't have much idea about the most dangerous PM 2.5 because its not measured. Newer vehicles are supposed to create more smaller particles. We might be seeing PM 10 getting better but PM 2.5 could be getting worse..

We just don't really know about the greater health risk factors. They might be getting worse for PM 2.5...

Would be nice to know but I guess that collection equipment is more expensive.

Edited by CobraSnakeNecktie
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I have bronchitis anyway so I was short of breath so figure thats why but remember about smog so check on interent AQI. Now I see it is not there like before. Used to be very easy and helpful from PCD but now is in Thai only and only PM10 not AQI. Are they trying to keep the farang from knowing about pollution or did they just fire everyone in govt. that writes in English.

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TAT: Tourism in Chiang Mai not affected by haze pollution

BANGKOK, 19 February 2012 (NNT) – The haze pollution in Chiang Mai poses no short-term threat to the province's tourism sector; however, a quick solution is called for in order to avoid any long-term impacts.

Director of the Tourism Authority of Thailand’s Chiang Mai office Chalermsak Suranan has disclosed that the haze, which still covers Chiang Mai province, does not at present have any significant impact on provincial tourism. Tourists are still expected to flow into the northern province at a normal rate, especially with the ongoing Royal Flora 2011. However, Mr. Chalermsak feared that if the haze pollution persists, it might cause damage to the sector in the future. Thus, he urged all relevant sectors to come up with a speedy solution to the problem.

Mr. Chalermsak added that after the Royal Flora 2011 ended on 14 March, Chiang Mai province would host a large Thai New Year, or Songkran, Festival in April, followed by a golf tourism campaign in May and June, in order to maintain a year-round tourism promotion for the northern province.

nntlogo.jpg

-- NNT 2012-02-19 footer_n.gif

Nothing affects tourism in Thailand according to government sources. be it riots. airport blockades. flooding or even terrorism

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We had a strong wind yesterday (Sunday) so there was a noticeable improvement in air quality.

Hope it continues today.

There was an article on the Inversion in Guidelines magazine some years ago, been recognised since the 17 Century.

john

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No, nobody is evacuating.

The issue for me, as nikster pointed out eloquently in a previous post, is that it is not the smoke/smog/dust that is most bothersome.

It is that this is directly derived from mistaken and damaging human behavior.

I am from California USA originally, where we have earthquakes, forest fires and other misc. nature caused disasters on a regular basis.

Even the occasional tornado and mudslide...the latter almost took my life one time.

I understand the limitations of budget, etc. in addressing this problem in Thailand. I also understand that this is not something strictly due to indigenous people who are burning. I've read myriad articles on this topic, including an excellent series in Citylife by a Brit author who investigated the burning practices of rural folk around CM.

Yes, the various ethnic minorities do burn forest undergrowth, often to clear the forest floor to make it easier to hunt, collect mushrooms, etc. But largly they are (and have always been) good stewards of the forest resources.

In addition, there are many large (absentee) "land owners" who are illegally appropriating land, often in protected areas, and burning them off for commercial purposes. Anyone who reads the Thai press knows all about the "influential persons" who have through corruption grabbed national park land and built resorts, planted para rubber plantations, etc. Because often times these people are politicians, or wear a uniform of one kind or another, or come from a local politically powerful clan in a certain area....they have impunity to do these things. The penalties are laughable, but never mind that.....these people will never be charged or see the inside of a courtroom, ever. It's sort of like the US West in the 1850's, when the only law enforced was by the gun on your hip, and how many hired guns you had to back you up. My point here is that it's not just the hilltribe folks doing this burning, it is also powerful vested interests clearing land for illegal purposes. Including the neighboring countries.

Rant over, got my room air filter running, A-OK here.coffee1.gif

It may be a rant, but it is a good one. I also grew up in California (Los Angeles), and the similarities are surprising. While one is due to burning, and the other cars, the root cause is the same - human behavior. And the key to changing that is not education, but good old fashion penalties - make the penalties for doing it so bad that it is not in their interest to do it.

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The quality of vehicle emissions from new cars could wholly explain the trend for the old town monitoring station.

We still don't have much idea about the most dangerous PM 2.5 because its not measured. Newer vehicles are supposed to create more smaller particles. We might be seeing PM 10 getting better but PM 2.5 could be getting worse..

We just don't really know about the greater health risk factors. They might be getting worse for PM 2.5...

Would be nice to know but I guess that collection equipment is more expensive.

I booked a trip back to the UK last April, hoping for some cleaner air. As we all know we had heaps of rain here in Thailand, & a much better season pollution wise.

Back in the UK there were a couple of days where weather conditions led to smog alert. Blamed on vehicle emissions. I would imagine vehicle emissions are "cleaner" in UK than over here, where "dirty" diesel is burnt.

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Chiang Mai Governor to Discuss and Seek Solutions For Smog Threats

UPDATE : 20 February 2012

Smoke continues to linger over the northern area, while Chiang Mai governor has prepared to coordinate with a northern provincial group to resolve the current crisis.

Chiang Mai Governor Mom Luang Panadda Disakul disclosed about the smoke that remain lingering around the area, saying that the situation has been slightly improved since many sectors have sprayed water into the air, which has eased the pollution level.

Yesterday, at 10 A.M., the PM 10 level, which indicates the density of very minute dust particles in the air, has measured at 111.88 micrograms per cubic meter, while its highest was 179.38 on the day before.

However, all districts have been asked to strictly watch for combustion and violators will face dispensary action to prevent the situation from getting worse.

Affiliated units will be called in to attend the meeting next week, as Panadda accepted that the smog situation is difficult to control since thick smog from the combustion is covering around the northern area.

Currently, the governor has coordinated with the upper northern province group to seek for overall solutions, since solving one area at a time would not be effective, and that announcing smog disaster zones is unnecessary.

If the situation gets worse in the city, the governor will ask for the C-130 military transport aircraft to help in spraying the water into the air to ease the situation. Residents have been asked to take care of their health especially during this period, and wear safety masks to protect them from dust, which can cause to harm to their health.

Chief of the weather agency, Tiwa Panmaisi, reported that the weather of yesterday morning, saying that after the rain in 20 percent if the area, the smokes from fires have been eased as the sky became clearer, and that visibility range has been increased from 1,000 meters to 5,000.

The wildfire has caused heavy impact on residential homes on the foothills, and that many residents have been affected from smoke and dust from the fire, and became ill.

tanlogo.jpg

-- Tan Network 20 February 2012

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Seasonal haze eases in northern provinces

LAMPANG, Feb 20 – The thick haze and smog covering Thailand’s northern provinces, particularly Lampang and Chiang Mai, on Monday improved dramatically owing to downpours.

Lampang Governor Booncherd Kidhen said that the air pollution crisis here returned to normal as the rain helped reduce haze, clearing particulate matter from the atmosphere. He admitted that Lampang this year is severely blanketed by a thick haze, and smog exceeding the safety limits to 230 microgrammes per cubic metre.

A major cause of the haze problem resulted from open air burning activities, Mr Booncherd explained, adding that the province has initiated measures to strictly control burning activities in all 13 districts, with the ban remaining in place until April to prevent a recurrence of the haze.

Agencies relevant to forest fire control and the local administrative organisations were assigned to provide equipment and budget to brace for possible smog and forest fire in subdistricts and villages as well integrating fire response operations immediately and efficiently.

The governor warned that persons starting illegal burning activities in the province will be charged for violating Royal Forest Department law and may be sentenced to as much as 15 years in jail and be fined Bt100,000 maximum. Violators will be charged and must compensate all damages in line with the Enhancement and Conservation of the National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535.

image_2012022015061499CBF3E5-F58A-9C0B-7B646E78775DF045.jpg

In a related development, Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn led municipal officials, police officers and other civil servants from a provincial natural resources and environmental office to the downtown Tha Pae gate to inspect vehicles with excessive black vehicular exhaust as well as campaigning against the ongoing air pollution which was higher than the safety standard.

Mr Tassanai said that although the suspended particulate matter and other hazardous dust particles on Monday declined to 50-80 microns per cubic metre, Chiang Mai municipality continued spraying water at each location to reduce the dust to prevent a recurrence of the crisis.

Meanwhile, the mayor also asked for cooperation from contractors to control dust from construction sites and called for residents to refrain from burning activities.

Municipal and provincial authorities will apply all measures to tackle air pollution in order not to inconvenience tourists, the mayor said. (MCOT online news)

tnalogo.jpg

-- TNA 20 February 2012

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Seasonal haze eases in northern provinces

LAMPANG, Feb 20 – The thick haze and smog covering Thailand’s northern provinces, particularly Lampang and Chiang Mai, on Monday improved dramatically owing to downpours.

Lampang Governor Booncherd Kidhen said that the air pollution crisis here returned to normal as the rain helped reduce haze, clearing particulate matter from the atmosphere. He admitted that Lampang this year is severely blanketed by a thick haze, and smog exceeding the safety limits to 230 microgrammes per cubic metre.

A major cause of the haze problem resulted from open air burning activities, Mr Booncherd explained, adding that the province has initiated measures to strictly control burning activities in all 13 districts, with the ban remaining in place until April to prevent a recurrence of the haze.

Agencies relevant to forest fire control and the local administrative organisations were assigned to provide equipment and budget to brace for possible smog and forest fire in subdistricts and villages as well integrating fire response operations immediately and efficiently.

The governor warned that persons starting illegal burning activities in the province will be charged for violating Royal Forest Department law and may be sentenced to as much as 15 years in jail and be fined Bt100,000 maximum. Violators will be charged and must compensate all damages in line with the Enhancement and Conservation of the National Environmental Quality Act B.E. 2535.

image_2012022015061499CBF3E5-F58A-9C0B-7B646E78775DF045.jpg

In a related development, Chiang Mai Mayor Tassanai Buranupakorn led municipal officials, police officers and other civil servants from a provincial natural resources and environmental office to the downtown Tha Pae gate to inspect vehicles with excessive black vehicular exhaust as well as campaigning against the ongoing air pollution which was higher than the safety standard.

Mr Tassanai said that although the suspended particulate matter and other hazardous dust particles on Monday declined to 50-80 microns per cubic metre, Chiang Mai municipality continued spraying water at each location to reduce the dust to prevent a recurrence of the crisis.

Meanwhile, the mayor also asked for cooperation from contractors to control dust from construction sites and called for residents to refrain from burning activities.

Municipal and provincial authorities will apply all measures to tackle air pollution in order not to inconvenience tourists, the mayor said. (MCOT online news)

tnalogo.jpg

-- TNA 20 February 2012

Says here that it rained. Where were these "downpours"? I certainly didn't see any in town.

I thought the air improved just because the wind picked up.

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Third. This chart deals with monthly and yearly averages. The meaningful representation of PM counts are usually 24-hour or 8-hour averages. Why? Because greater concentrations of PM in the air even in a shorter amount of time do disproportionate lung damage compared to medium-levels over a longer time period. So, we look to the number of instances where PM 10 levels exceeded 120 ug/m3. 18 times in 2010 and 16 times in 2009 is A LOT, especially for a region with the size and population of Chiang Mai. While we don't know what the PM 2.5 levels are, we know that PM 10 and PM 2.5 levels generally share a correlation. Sure, there has been a decline from the 39 instances of PM 10 exceeding 120 ug/m3 in 2002, but that doesn't mean 15+ instances is a good record by any means. I guess I'm not sure what this is trying to prove. Certainly air quality is still quite bad during the burn months.

This is indeed a great post.

I left CM in 2008 with the air quality undoubtedly being one of the most influential factors in my decision to do so. While some expats were happy to say that the smoke was only for a few months a year and that they could deal with it for the benefits of living in the city the remainder of the time, I wasn't at all at ease thinking what damage I might be doing to myself on those days when the PM10 reached record figures. I think Siouxsen is correct in suggesting that lung damage could be sustained on those days and the fact that I now have a hypersensitivity to any airborne particulates just consolidates that in my mind.

This problem just continues to rear its ugly head year after year after year and nothing ever gets done about it, which is truly sad, particularly for those who have no option other than to endure it with no hope or possibility of relocating. Denial is at the root of the problem combined with a culture and education system that puts little emphasis on teaching the relationship between actions and their consequences. In the year that the PM10 levels exceeded 300, there was a story in the City Life magazine in which Pim wrote about her gardener's clandestine meeting to discuss with his colleague how they might go about secretly burning the garden waste without attracting the attention of the authorities. That said it all for me. While locals are entirely unable to make a connection between their own actions and the visibly poor air, as well as their sore eyes, tight chests etc, it's unlikely that there will be an end to the situation.

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siouxzen, what are your thoughts regarding the effectiveness of the C-130 military transport aircraft spraying the water into the air?

Or extending Songkran by two weeks so the extra squirt gun wars could dissipate the 3000 meter high dust cloud. Seriously, this is what the CM govt proposed a few years back.

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That's right, and by the way google cancer incidence Thailand. Chiang Mai & especially Lampang FAR exceed other areas of Thailand

for incidence of lung cancer. But hey, it's too much trouble to actually do something about it. Sa by sa by,...oops I mean bye bye....amazing.

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Update from http://aqmthai.serve...blic_report.php just because it's a bit hard to get to this data. Station for Chiang Mai is 35t (there's one or two more in CM though)

post-20814-0-99780600-1329790078_thumb.j

Maybe this is just a feeling but I think there's a lot of burning going on as soon as night falls.

I'm off to Hua Hin tomorrow. Now that the air is a bit better I would probably stay myself but wife's coughing, and so are the kids - not worth it...

Edited by nikster
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Update from http://aqmthai.serve...blic_report.php just because it's a bit hard to get to this data. Station for Chiang Mai is 35t (there's one or two more in CM though)

post-20814-0-99780600-1329790078_thumb.j

Maybe this is just a feeling but I think there's a lot of burning going on as soon as night falls.

I'm off to Hua Hin tomorrow. Now that the air is a bit better I would probably stay myself but wife's coughing, and so are the kids - not worth it...

Been going on for weeks now!

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The hills of Nam Phrae west of Hang Dong, where I live, are a popular area for mushroom hunters who will come in a few months to search for truffles and other wild mushrooms. Every year, with the exception of last year, the hills around us have been set alight in February. Whoever does it starts the fires at the ridgeline and the fire slowly works its way down the face of the hill. Whenever I see, smell or hear the crackling fire nearby I set off up the hill with a plastic rake in hand. A whack or two with the rake is enough to snuff out the flames and then its just a matter of following the trail of flames until is is all extinguished. It may take an hour or two to complete the job, and is a bit difficult because of the steep terrain but not impossible. Its not dangerous but its a smoky, hot job. Yet I feel immensely satisfied afterwards when there is nothing left but faint embers because I can see that the habitat for many birds and small animals has been preserved and the smoke and ashes from the fire have been kept from smothering our home. I used to feel helpless, powerless and angry when confronted with these fires at first, but once I started taking matters into my own hands I feel so much better and its empowering to feel I've made even a miniscule improvement in the overall smog/smoke situation.

…………………..

Petey, I guess we are brothers in spirit.

I do the same to protect the area behind our house on a rocky slope full of bushes, bamboo, big trees in brief, full of nature. In the dry season the ground is piled with dry leaves and limbs. When the hill tribes start their fires and it is creeping to “our hill” I take my shovel and kill it like you.

This area isn’t ours, but it’s full of animals as a lot of different birds, squirrels, different wizards, sometimes we saw a pangolin detected by our dog.

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Unfortunately we can’t avoid having more snakes including king cobras. The animals seem to award our efforts to protect the nature, unlike the people. Now we have more animals around us than before.

To protect our surroundings in advance we ascend the mountain behind us to build some hurdles for the fire. We rake a forest aisle free of leaves and limbs. The giant and old trees get the same treatment. It works very well

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Since we stay here in a remote village of the Mae Hong Son Province nobody dared to kill a big tree in our surroundings. Not because they are afraid of us. No, they like us and don’t want to make us a problem. For cutting bamboo I dismiss them. The hill opposite to us lost the few remaining wonderful big trees with the last 6 years.

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Besides protection against mudslides, saving all kinds of green helps to reduce the pollution too, at least a little bit.

The so called official re“actions” in CM have rather the character of desperate window dressing than of honest efforts to solve the fire problems. It’s like the flood handling in Bangkok. They are going to react minimally after the accident. No idea ever to think in advance. Sometimes their reactions seem to be a joke - spraying water in the air!!! The same ineffective nonsense like the motorboats on the Chao Phraya. They make the people believing it was this (officials’) action reducing the smoke. If spraying water works in CM, correct me, I don’t know exactly. But here in a low populated mountainous area this cannot work at all.

Rain making a solution?

Once they started rain making here in the North. Result: hail and sleet. I remember the funny rainmaking news from Beijing. Because of an overdose of chemicals they got the unwanted snow.

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The “improvement” in the last 2/3 days depended only on the weather (wind etc.). Nature did it, not the human beings. For me it’s officials “propaganda”.

There are 2 reasons for the yearly fires

- burning straw of rice in the flat areas

- burning the brushwood in the forests, especially in the mountain areas with the intention to kill the trees for selling and to gain new land for cultivation. Here in Mae Hong Son burning isn’t done for the mushrooms.

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As long as the pollution and the fires don’t have any impact on the interests and the business of the Poo Yais they will care less. They are getting active in the moment when their economic interests are hit - their own house, airport, tourism etc.

The haze caused by motor-traffic and from the coalmines exist all along the year. So traffic and coal-mine-dust cannot be the cause for awful smog during the first months of the year. Forget this idea. Of course, they are part of the constant pollution, but not the reason for this harmful smoke within these days.

I lost my hope the people here would change their habit. As long as the don’t learn in school about the health dangers of pollution they will not change their habit. Ads for the TV-addicted Thais, relating to the dangers of wildfires could change something.

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