11 July 2024

The Thai government is accelerating efforts to hold talks with its Cambodian counterpart to address transboundary air pollution, which is posing an increasing threat to the health of people in Thailand, as the dry season, is expected to be dryer and longer this year due to the El Niño weather phenomenon, gets underway.

At the instruction of Deputy Foreign Minister Jakkaphong Sangmanee, Chatchai Viriyavejakul, director-general of the East Asia Department has already called the Cambodian ambassador to Thailand  Hun Saroeun to express Thailand’s concern over the pollution coming  from Cambodia, according to informed sources in the Thai Foreign Ministry.

The Cambodian envoy has promised to convey Thailand’s concerns to Phnom Penh today, said the sources, adding that Jakkaphong will call Eang Sophalleth, Cambodia’s environment minister, tomorrow to discuss the problem. The Thai ambassador to Phnom Penh will also visit Sophalleth the same day for further discussion on the issue.

MODIS satellite images, taken on January 30, show 644 hotspots in Cambodia, 101 in Laos, 98 in Myanmar, 41 in Vietnam and 9 in Malaysia. Most of the hotspots in Thailand were detected in farm land.

Officials at the Pollution Control Department are due to meet today to assess the related problems of PM2.5 pollution and hotspots.

Somkuan Tonjan, director of the Central Weather Forecast unit at the Meteorological Department, said today that the hotspots in Cambodia did show any sign of reducing during a week of observation, as airborne pollution from Cambodia crosses the border into Thailand in Sa Kaeo and Prachin Buri provinces.

He warned Bangkok residents that they will face increased airborne pollution for another week, due to poor wind circulation.

According to the Centre for Air Pollution Mitigation, PM2.5 has exceeded the threshold level in 39 provinces, including Bangkok, today. In and around the capital, PM2.5 levels in the past 24 hours were between 41.8µg/m³ and 90.9µg/m³ against the safety threshold of 37.5µg/m³.