Thursday, August 22, 2019

Burning sugarcane fields choke Khon Kaen

Feb 06. 2019
Photo courtesy of Saree Arayasampun
Photo courtesy of Saree Arayasampun
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By The Nation

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POLLUTION continued to choke the Northeast province of Khon Kaen yesterday, with the Air Quality Index (AQI) reaching 187, well beyond the “moderate” safety limit of 100.

PM2.5 dust was measured at 85 micrograms per cubic metre of air and PM10 at 126, both again beyond the safety limits of 50 and 120 respectively, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) reported.

Assoc Professor Dr Kittichai Triratanasirichai, a former president of Khon Kaen University, said the pollution in Khon Kaen had worsened mainly due to the burning of sugarcane and rice stubble and from exhaust fumes. 

“If you look from a plane, you will clearly see smoke from sugarcane plantations,” he said, adding that farmers preferred to burn the sugarcane stubble because it was the most convenient way to clear the fields, but this aggravated the smog. 

“Exhaust fumes are also a big problem. The amount of dust in the air increases considerably during rush hour,” he noted. 

Photo courtesy of Saree Arayasampun

Khon Kaen governor Somsak Jangtrakul yesterday called an urgent meeting to seek solutions and called on residents to refrain from lighting outdoor fires, especially when it comes to disposing agricultural waste before harvesting the crop. He also urged people to spray water in front of their homes.

Somsak insisted that provincial authorities had been strict about large construction projects and vehicle emissions, adding that agencies were also regularly spraying water to bring down dust particles in at-risk areas. 

Meanwhile, the PCD said all of Greater Bangkok was within the safe PM2.5 level yesterday and predicted that pollution would decrease further today due to a change in the weather and continued mitigation measures. 

The PCD has installed AQI devices in just three provinces in the Northeast, namely Khon Kaen, Nakhon Ratchasima and Loei.

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