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|Air pollution level
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| 73 US AQI
PM2.5 concentration in Pattaya is currently 4.5 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Monday, Feb 19
Moderate 57 AQI US
|Tuesday, Feb 20
Moderate 59 AQI US
|Wednesday, Feb 21
Moderate 55 AQI US
Moderate 73 AQI US
|Friday, Feb 23
Moderate 51 AQI US
|Saturday, Feb 24
Moderate 52 AQI US
|Sunday, Feb 25
Moderate 57 AQI US
|Monday, Feb 26
Moderate 58 AQI US
|Tuesday, Feb 27
Moderate 60 AQI US
|Wednesday, Feb 28
Moderate 60 AQI US
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The quality of air in Pattaya, like a majority of cities in Thailand, falls into the moderate bracket in terms of how polluted the air is. Pattaya finds itself on the lower end of this ‘moderate’ spectrum, coming in at 53rd place out of the 68 Thai cities with AQI readings available. However just like the rest of Thailand, it is still at risk for the occasional spike in air pollution, with reasons that tell a similar story to the others, poor air quality that finds its root cause in the burning of organic material, as well as the fumes and smoke from vehicles and boats. Pattaya is well known as a major tourist destination, with tourism being the driving force behind its economy. As such there would be a large amount of buses and cars transporting high volumes of people in and out, as well as the recreational usage of boats contributing to higher levels of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air, since the control rules regarding the condition of the engines as well as the quality of fuels used in them is far less stringent than that of other countries, leading to a sizeable output of pollution and black carbon from inefficient combustion in diesel engines.
Overall in regards to the air quality, in 2019 an average PM2.5 reading of 20.9 µg/m³ was recorded, putting it in the previously mentioned moderate air quality bracket, a rating earnt when the level of PM2.5 in the air is recorded at being between 12.1 to 35.4 µg/m³. It does not suffer from the same extreme spikes in PM2.5 readings that other cities in Thailand have, and in fact had four recorded months out of the year of 2019 come in at the World Health Organizations (WHO) goal of 0 to 10 µg/m³, giving it an overall much better air quality rating over the rest of Thailand, hence why it comes in at 53rd place. In an unusual trend when compared with the rest of the country, its most polluted months were November and December, with November coming in at 34.4 µg/m³, and December coming in 36.8 µg/m³, the only month of the year to move outside of the moderate bracket and into the ‘unhealthy for sensitive groups’ rating.
The reasons for this better placing may have to do with its location, with size playing a small part in the readings as well. It is a coastal city, and with that comes the benefits of pollution being shifted by wind and air currents, as many landlocked cities can find themselves in a pollution sink whereby the poor quality of air and smoke is unable to escape from the city, bottled in by the surrounding buildings as well as geographical features such as mountainous terrain.
One last thing to take into account when considering the air quality of Pattaya is the lack of data available up until recent times, with no yearly averages available for both 2017 and 2018, and January through to March of 2019 was completely void of data, which could have given a skewed average due to lack of instruments available to pick up on and record the air quality. The higher PM2.5 rating towards the end of the year could indicate that the pollution levels are increasing, or rather being picked up on and recorded.
It would seem that a large amount of the pollution in Pattaya might, or should stem from the tourism sector, with the thousands of buses and cars ferrying people back and forth daily, emitting a variety of noxious fumes and smoke, containing all manner of chemicals that make up PM10 and PM2.5, such as nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and sulfur dioxide (SO2). However, with the massive decline in tourism in 2020 due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the numbers as well as both visible and noticeable pollution seem to be on the rise, even late into the year.
So it would be apparent that whilst vehicular emissions and other industrial entities would no doubt be contributing to the quantity of PM2.5 to be found in the air, the main factor would once again be the burning of crops, plantations as well as forested areas, a practice that whilst deemed highly illegal in Thailand, seems to continue onwards with little to no cessation.
City officials in Pattaya are turning their departments resources towards improving the air quality, as it takes up evermore attention of governing bodies in recent times due to reoccurring haze spells across the region, with persistent smog plaguing Bangkok and the Chon Buri province in the latter part of 2020 as well as early 2019, although this is nothing particularly new. Various government departments have stepped in to assist in combating the rise of pollution, in particular the police department, allocating increased amounts of their time to getting various smoke belching trucks and cars off the road by taking a more aggressive approach to ticketing, with an increase in patrol units on the lookout for suspect vehicles.
To reduce the level of fine dust particles making its way into the air, trucks that are carrying rock and dirt based materials are being targeted if their loads are not sufficiently covered, construction sites are being targeted in a similar was as well, to make sure their own rock and dust piles are covered, with sites being required to hose the dirt accumulation down to prevent an excess of fine particles entering the air. As well as this, on a more interpersonal approach, citizens are being advised against the burning of leaves and other organic material, and the reduction of street vendors who use barbeques. Although it is a small step in the right direction, ground level initiatives such as these can reduce the levels of black carbon (BC) being released into the atmosphere, a highly toxic material caused by the incomplete combustion of organic matter or fossil fuels.
As another coastal city of a similar nature to Pattaya, Phuket comes in on the 2019 PM2.5 rating as having the cleanest yearly average, with a reading of 11.4 µg/m³, putting it in the ‘good’ bracket and only 1.4 µg/m³ over the WHO’s target of PM2.5 in the air, whilst also being ranked at number 68 in Thailand, meaning that it is the cleanest city in the whole country.
Whilst there is a lack of data in the last few years for both cities, Phuket seems to have remained consistently cleaner in the year of 2020, with a reading of 46 µg/m³ on the 14th of November, putting it once again into the good bracket, albeit on the slightly higher end, but still far better than Pattaya’s readings at the same time, making Phuket’s air much cleaner and safer to breathe.
Whilst the missing chunks of data are something to take into consideration in regards to this question, these gaps can be filled in with the more current readings, which show that the quality of air is on the decline and of continuous concern for its citizens. Pattaya is a relatively small city of 53.4 km2 with a population of just under 120,000 registered citizens as of 2019, so for the air quality to be getting worse means that there is a problem going unaddressed.