Environment

Bangkok chokes in smog, as govt drafts laws to stop it

Bangkok, Jan 19 (EFE).- Bangkok remained at high levels of smog Friday, while Thailand’s parliament continued processing laws to improve air quality.

The Thai capital experienced pollution levels deemed “Unhealthy,” with high concentrations of dangerous PM2.5 particles according to international air quality monitoring portal IQAir.

These are pollution particles measuring 2.5 micrometers and are the most dangerous the human body because they can directly enter the bloodstream.

As a result of these levels, which have engulfed the city for days, many Thais have begun wearing masks with pollution filters to minimize exposure to the haze.

Authorities said air pollution would continue at these record levels the next few days.

Parliament approved Thursday with 443 votes in favor, one abstention and no votes against, the first reading of the seven bills aimed at improving air quality, but it will still take long for these to become law.

The House of Representatives will create a committee of 39 members, including government and opposition deputies, to examine the seven bills promoted by different parties.

This group aims to merge all the drafts into one, based on the government-sponsored version, to submit it to a second and third vote.

If support is achieved in the three sessions, the law will be published in the official Royal Gazette and be given a 90-day grace before coming into force.

The government-sponsored bill focuses on addressing the problem of cross-border pollution – from Cambodia and Myanmar – and aims to regulate factory activity, agriculture and transportation, among other measures.

One of the main air pollution problems in Thailand is the agricultural burning season, which usually occurs between January and April during the beginning of the planting period, and which coincides with the country’s dry season.

This burning, a method used by farmers that is cheaper than removing plants by hand or with machines, also occurs in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Myanmar and Laos, whose clouds of pollution cross the border into Thailand. EFE

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