Get an AirVisual Outdoor and contribute to collecting millions of data points for the Hat Yai map to track local air pollution
The interactive air quality map for Hat Yai uses colour-coded discs to show the level of air quality at the various air monitoring stations located throughout the city and its environs. The colours range from pale green to represent good air quality to dark maroon which would indicate hazardous conditions and a full range of colours between. Each disc has a number in the centre which is the US AQI figure. Sometimes the information is augmented by satellite data.
This United States Air Quality Index number is supported by the World Health Organisation (WHO) and is used throughout the world when comparing the air quality in different cities. It is calculated by measuring the levels of the six most prolific pollutants which are nitrogen dioxide, sulphur dioxide, ozone, carbon monoxide and PM2.5 and PM10. If all six figures are not available a level can still be calculated by using what data there is.
When a disc is chosen, a drop-down box appears on the screen with information about air temperature, humidity, wind speed and air pressure. In the centre of the disc is seen the level of the PM2.5 pollutant in microns per cubic metre. This figure is often used as the benchmark figure in comparisons.
Once the map is viewed in full-screen mode, the discs which were superimposed on top of each other begin to separate and reveal other discs below. Users who know the area may recognise these areas as industrial zones which are responsible for the main pollutants throughout the city. These are often located out of the city in the specially created industrial parks or zones, but not always. Sometimes the city has grown around the existing sites and some can therefore be close to residential areas. These residual factory units are often offered incentives to relocate to the aforementioned industrial zones.
This information can prove very useful when choosing to travel to other parts of the city or where your child’s school will be or possibly even help choose where to live. The main junctions or intersections in the city centre can sometimes be a darker colour because of the amount of traffic using the roads. This will be more noticeable during the commuting hours when vehicles are used to get to and from work.
The map shows where the individual monitors are located within the area.
As previously mentioned, the interactive map reveals where the worst air quality is through the use of coloured discs. The darker the colour, the worse the air quality is. The disc also contains the US AQI number which informs the reader how bad the air is. The higher the number, the poorer the air.
Local authorities use information gathered from these monitors to further study the contents of the air. Some gas pollutants i.e., chlorine, hydrogen sulphide, sulphur dioxide and arsenic hydride were studied by collecting the air sample near the industrial areas through indicator tubes. Air samples were taken at the height of 1.5–1.6 meters from the ground and the distance of 100–200 meters from the manufacturing factory.
Sometimes the map needs to be used in conjunction with the main page for the chosen city. The main page itself can be very informative as to the state of the air and where the pollution comes from. As well as general information about the city itself.
A lot of the pollution in Hat Yai comes from its transportation system. It has a major rail network junction close to the city as well as an international airport. Main roads run the entire length of the peninsular and are used as the main artery when travelling from Malaysia through Thailand.
The interactive air quality map for Hat Yai will show if there are any wildfires burning that will affect the air quality in the city.
There is a considerable percentage of pollution blown across the border from Indonesia and Sumatra. These wildfires are worse at some times of the year than others, but the air pollution map for Hat Yai will indicate the elevated levels of pollution and show what areas to avoid, if possible. Very often it is not only organic matter that is burned, because people take the opportunity of seeing a burning fire to throw any garbage onto it as a means to get rid of it. This often contains old plastic bottles which produce some very nasty smoke with a high carcinogenic content. In some areas, the government have a scheme to buy the old rice straw instead of burning it. Unfortunately, this is not made advantage of very often because it is looked on as being easier to set fire to it as has been done for generations.
A particle is a solid or liquid matter that floats in the air around us and is usually categorized according to its diameter. PM10 is a particle below 10 µm, PM2.5 is below 2.5 µm across and PM1 is - unsurprisingly - less than 1 µm.
It is important to understand the difference between these particle categories because they all have a varying level of impact on our health. With the help of the nose hairs, particles around 100 µm across are prevented from penetrating into our bodies. However, smaller particles move further in. PM10 gets stuck in the throat, PM2.5 gets stuck in the lungs and PM1 can get past everything to penetrate the bloodstream. It is these small particles that can really have negative effects on our health.
The list of health problems associated with particles is in principle constantly growing. Particles have been linked to various lung diseases and heart attacks and are classified as a class 1 carcinogenic substance. No wonder the World Health Organisation ranks air pollution as the biggest environmental risk to human health - accounting for seven million deaths per year.