Bangkok is currently coping with unhealthy levels of PM2.5 particulates.

On the 26th of January, the Bangkok Post wrote an article with the following passage on a link with Cambodian crop burning:

Pollution Control Department (PCD) director-general Pralong Damrongthai told the Bangkok Post that the department acknowledged there was transboundary haze from Cambodia and that he had urged the government to monitor the burning.

However, PCD air quality monitoring stations along the Thai-Cambodian border in Trat and Chachaoengsao have not detected severe air pollution in Cambodia recently.

Prof Serm Janchai, a lecturer on physics at Faculty of Science at Silpakorn University also shared the same view that "part" of the PM2.5 comes from open burning in Cambodia.

Prof Serm has conducted tests and found a correlation between open burning in Cambodia, wind direction, and the level of PM2.5 in Bangkok recently.

He said his study of atmospheric dust had found a high level of fine PM2.5, suggesting the source could be opening burning.

Other than correlation (which doesn't necessarily imply causation), what evidence is there that Cambodian crop burning contributes to the unhealthy particulate levels in Bangkok?

  • Here in Minnesota we roughly once a year develop a visible haze that the weather guys tell us is due to a fire in Oregon or some such. Generally this is not called out as "unhealthy" (except perhaps for folks with respiratory illness), but our fire is 1000 miles distant vs 100 miles, and the severity of the problem is often related to weather patterns, terrain, etc. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 14:02
  • @DanielRHicks this claim is mostly about PM2.5 particulates. The reason I doubt this has any major influence is because then you'd also find higher levels in-between, which according to the second paragraph of my quote is not the case. Having been to Bangkok many times, both away from major roads and in the middle of them / in parking garages, I would guess traffic is the major culprit. Obviously, that doesn't rule out the claim, it could add to the existing levels, but I'd like to see more convincing evidence (either proving or disproving the claim).
    – JJJ
    Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 14:12
  • I don't know much about the terrain there, but do understand that land features, such as a broad river valley with hills on either side, can trap (via "temperature inversion", et al) and exacerbate pollution, whatever the source. So it's possible to have conditions worse 100 miles from the source vs 50 miles from the source. Commented Jan 27, 2019 at 14:32


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