Rainmaking efforts improving air quality, Thai gov’t says

This Bankokian is going viral today for their… unique dust protection gear. Photo: Twitter/ FM91 Traffic Pro
This Bankokian is going viral today for their… unique dust protection gear. Photo: Twitter/ FM91 Traffic Pro

The Thai government today declared that rainmaking efforts they first revealed on Monday have yielded positive results in efforts to improve what’s been dire air quality for more than a week now.

Puttipong Punnakan, deputy secretary-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and Government spokesperson, revealed that rainmaking operations — which began at 3pm yesterday — produced a downpour in several districts of Bangkok, including Phaya Thai and Huai Khwang, as well as several parts of Nonthaburi and Pathum Thani provinces.

Comparing Bangkok’s air quality index at 7pm, after the artificial rain, to where it had been 12 hours earlier, officials concluded that the method had successfully lowered hazardous dust particulate matter (PM) levels, as hoped, reported Thairath.

Levels of PM with a diameter of 2.5 micrometres (PM2.5) had dropped roughly 10 micrograms in targeted areas. For example, in the Phra Ram 2 area, levels decreased from 65 to 56; in Din Dang, 74 to 66; and in Prathumwan, 66 to 58.

The kingdom, however, still has ways to go, as anything above 50mcg is considered unsafe. Artificial rainmaking efforts are set to continue today.

The latest update from Air Quality Index (AQI) indicates that Bangkok’s current situation, while improving, remains “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” same as yesterday.  

Photo: Air Quality Index
Photo: Air Quality Index

However, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) expects weather conditions to improve tomorrow, thanks in part to rain forecast for 20% of Bangkok — optimistically predicting that Bangkok’s Air pollution may be downgraded to a “moderate” level, reported Manager.  

That seems entirely likely, as according to the current data, we are just four points away from it (the “moderate” category caps off at 100.)

Photo: Air Quality Index
Photo: Air Quality Index

The PCD, meanwhile, called for citizens to cooperate in efforts to battle the smog by reducing personal car use and refraining from burning anything in the open. All vehicles that produce black smoke are strictly prohibited.

Separately, the Ministry of Public Health has reopened the Emergency Operation Center —  a central command and control facility responsible for emergency and disaster management.

“We only open when there’s some state of emergency. We were open from Jan. 3-7 because of tropical storm Pabuk, and on Tuesday we reopened to deal with the smog problem ,” an EOC representative told Coconuts Bangkok over the phone this afternoon.

Though the smog crisis has only recently had such a bright spotlight, that’s partially down to social media trends and better data collection, according to former head of the PCD Supat Wangwongwatana, who told Khaosod that pollution levels have been a chronic problem in Thailand’s capital for years.

“The reason we didn’t feel it was this bad in the past was due to the lack of information,” he said.

Photo: Twitter/ FM91 Traffic Pro

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