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| 87 US AQI
PM2.5 concentration in Kamphaeng Phet is currently 5.8 times the WHO annual air quality guideline value
|Sunday, Feb 25
Moderate 93 AQI US
|Monday, Feb 26
Moderate 93 AQI US
|Tuesday, Feb 27
Moderate 96 AQI US
Moderate 87 AQI US
|Thursday, Feb 29
Moderate 99 AQI US
|Friday, Mar 1
Moderate 89 AQI US
|Saturday, Mar 2
Moderate 94 AQI US
|Sunday, Mar 3
Moderate 95 AQI US
|Monday, Mar 4
Moderate 83 AQI US
|Tuesday, Mar 5
Moderate 80 AQI US
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Kamphaeng Phet is a city located in the central region of Thailand, having once held the title of capital of the province with which it shares the same name. It has a long history of being a location of significant strategical importance, with its name translating to ‘the wall of diamond’, pertaining to its formidable strength as a defensive city against invasions coming from the north.
Despite its importance in Thai military history, nowadays it sees itself attracting tourists as a mainstay of its economy, having a relatively small population and lacking the huge industry and economy seen in many other cities and regions of Thailand, although it is not without its own industrial side. There are a fair amount of factories present within the cities limits, all of which would contribute to the pollution levels, alongside the pollution given off by vehicles.
Kamphaeng Phet came in with a yearly PM2.5 reading of 23.6 μg/m³ over the course of 2019, placing it in the ‘moderate’ pollution bracket, which requires a PM2.5 reading of anywhere between 12.1 to 25.4 μg/m³ to be classified as such. This reading also placed in 686th place out of all cities ranked worldwide in 2019, as well as 40th place out of all cities ranked in Thailand, coming in 8 places ahead of Bangkok, showing that it does indeed have some pollutive issues occurring.
As a smaller and less densely populated city in Thailand, Kamphaeng Phet would still be subject to pollution from vehicles, but to a lesser extent when compared to a city such as Bangkok or Chiang Mai. As such, a small amount (but still relevant, air quality wise) of pollution would arise from the use of personal vehicles such as motorbikes and cars, many of which would be running on diesel fuels, and also utilizing engines that are considerably out of date, something that is commonly seen in more rural areas around Thailand, with poor combustion processes in the engines allowing huge leakage of oil vapors and noxious chemical byproducts from the fuel, which in itself is often of a lower quality, or as mentioned, a fossil fuel such as diesel.
Whilst this is a relevant form of pollution in this city, its main air quality hazards come from the burning of forested areas or crop fields, with sugar cane plantations being particularly notorious offenders, with many farmers resorting to slash and burn farming practices to not only clear out new swathes of land for them to utilize, but also to clear harvested crops and return a portion of nutrients to the soil.
This releases a vast amount of highly dangerous pollutants and fine particulate matter into the air, with devastating effect to those who are exposed. Other causes would be fumes and smoke arising from factories and industrial sites, as well as construction sites and road repairs also contributing to the amount of PM2.5 and PM10 in the air.
Observing the data taken over the course of 2019 (although of note is that as of this time, some data from the earlier months of the year was missing), it can be seen that a clear pattern emerges, as is common with many cities in the mid to northern region of Thailand, with the upper portion being more subject to pollution caused by the burning of local crops and plantations, whilst the south of Thailand has its own woes regarding smoke from crops burnt in Indonesia being blown over to the southern peninsula.
Pollution levels start to take a turn for the worst around September, with a sudden increase in PM2.5 from 7.1 μg/m³ in August jumping up to 17.6 μg/m³ in September, a considerable difference. This then continued to rise until an absolute high was seen in December, with a very hazardous reading of 60.5 μg/m³ being present, putting that month in the ‘unhealthy’ ratings bracket, which as the name implies is extremely detrimental to any groups of people exposed to it.
This made December the most polluted month recorded in 2019, with April following closely behind with a reading of 49.3 μg/m³, showing that the elevated levels of pollution taken at the end of the year continue on through till the next year (of note is that January through to March is missing data, although it can be assumed that they would also show elevated levels of pollution, with other nearby cities showing similar poor readings of pollution in Kamphaeng Phet’s missing months).
Moving on from the previous issue of when the pollution levels are at their worst, in direct contrast there are also some months that show extremely good levels of air quality, which is indicative that if the sources of pollution were to have some brakes applied to them (with a proper enforcement of putting a permanent end to the crop burning practices), then the city would see very respectable and clean levels of air year round.
After the month of May, PM2.5 readings improve dramatically, with a drop from 20.8 μg/m³ in May going down to 7.9 μg/m³ in June, followed by 7.8 μg/m³ in July and 7.1 μg/m³ in August, making these three months the cleanest out of the year and all falling within the WHO's target goal for great air quality, which is any reading from 10 μg/m³ or below, with the closer to 0 of course being the most optimal. It is within the months of June to August that the air quality would be at its best, free from the haze, smog, smoke and other toxic pollutants that permeate the atmosphere during the other months of the year.
During the months that see the highest levels of PM2.5 readings, and with the associated clouds of black soot and smoke in the air being released from the fields, health issues would range from short term to very serious and grave long term illnesses.
These would include in the short run, irritation to the nose, mouth, eyes and skin, as well as incidences of chest and throat infections and dry cough. More serious long term issues would include a massive increase of cancer rates, particularly that of the lungs and throat.
Others would be rapid aging and scarring of the lungs, leading to permanently reduced function and a shortened life expectancy. Once the lungs have incurred any damage, those suffering from the effects will be more prone to further respiratory ailments, with pneumonia, bronchitis, emphysema and aggravated asthma attacks all topping the list for chronic and acute pulmonary disorders.