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Stubble Burning, Thailand

Its been going on for months now - the air quality in Northern Thailand leaves a lot to be desired. In fact at times it has been hazardous to health and proper masks are needed. Not the cheap surgical masks but ones that filter PM 2.5. The former are a waste of money and will not filter out what is dangerous.

Stubble Burning

The cause of this bad air quality seems to be farmers burning stubble within northern Thailand and neighbouring Myanmar and Laos. The mountainous and hilly area doesn't help as the bad air is trapped in the valleys. Forest fires, whether arson or accidental don't help either. I am not surprised there are forest fires as the temperature is 35 - 40 degrees C where I am in Chiang Rai, with very little rain.

It is predicted that we are in for a drenching this weekend but apart from a short burst yesterday evening nothing major yet. Of course, the rain will help with respect to fires, dust and therefore air quality. But is not here yet.

The authorities are out on roads spraying water in an attempt to keep dust on the ground, at least they are trying to help. But what is needed is the total and rigorous enforcement of a ban on burning stubble when one such a ban is in existence. Bans are put in place but ignored.

Farmers tend to ignore the bans because if they stopped burning it would create problems for them. They see burning as a quick, cheap and easy way to further their farming. If they don't burn they have to spend time and more importantly money. Something which is in short supply for them to say the least.

Therefore I cannot see any way out of the burning problem in the short term so we will have to put up with it.

UPDATE December 2019: The air in Chiang Rai is better than in Bangkok at the time of writing. Bangkok's problem does not result from the same stubble burning but pollution from vehicles and dust from the vast number of building developments in the city.

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