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Erstellt von socky7, 02.02.2011, 12:52 Uhr · 20 Antworten · 1.713 Aufrufe
05.02.11, 19:43 #21
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Air quality is a disgrace
Published: 5/02/2011 at 12:00 AM
With many businesses closed for the lunar new year, traffic has eased and so has the unhealthy grey pall of air pollution that usually hangs over the capital. But next week the coughs and blaring horns will be back and a fresh assault on our lungs will begin. It is time we took these danger signs more seriously.
The Pollution Control Department warned us this week that levels of air pollution in some parts of Bangkok are already critical, with up to three times the acceptable amount of hazardous substances in the air we breathe. Worse, recent inspections uncovered disturbingly high levels of benzene, a chemical found in petrol and tobacco smoke and a known carcinogen.
This was highest in zones which included Chulalongkorn Hospital and the Din Daeng community. Evaluating the benzene levels, the department said the quality of air in Bangkok is little different from that of the Map Ta Phut industrial estate, a scary indictment if ever there was one. Yet there is a positive side. Air quality in Bangkok has actually improved in the 15 years since leaded petrol was outlawed, mass transit taken seriously and LPG and CNG adopted as taxi and bus fuels. Gasohol, while marketed as a "green" fuel, brought with it its own set of problems. But at least the filthy brown cloud, which at rush hours blotted out the sun, has turned light grey and the skies are blue again.
Avoiding the streets does not mean escaping air pollution. Some people spend up to 80% of their lives indoors, telecommuting from home offices, studying, eating and sleeping in sealed environments where air circulation is restricted. Ventilation is often poor and dependent on stale air recycled through conditioners mixed with fumes from cooking and other irritants such as insecticide sprays, building materials, tobacco and charcoal smoke which lead to pollution inside buildings. And contaminated air still seeps in.
Those who succeeded in getting out of the big city and staying in the provinces over Chinese New Year will feel all the better for it. Now imagine what the capital would be like if we cleaned up air quality and residents began to lose the persistent coughs, sore throats and respiratory problems that come with bad air. There is no easy alternative. Moving to the outskirts is merely a temporary solution because Bangkok is expanding rapidly and soon catches up. Similar problems plague Chiang Mai and other big provincial capitals.
Part of the problem is that urban areas are becoming so crowded that services and infrastructure just cannot cope, especially given the proliferation of high-density condos. So, given that we know that Bangkok's air is badly polluted, that pollution causes illness, and that these illnesses cause suffering, misery and death, what are we doing about it? Clearly not enough.
We need a determined clean air campaign which takes the form of an onslaught on the remaining old, poorly maintained buses still on our streets, along with smoke-belching trucks and other polluting vehicles. It is time to stop treating symptoms and concentrate on the root cause of most of Bangkok's pollution and that is the motor vehicle itself. We can, and have, banned cigarettes from public places but ignored the larger problem of the car plague, associated air pollution and getting non-essential vehicles out of city centres. Achieving this will require a change of mindset and lifestyle, but we can do it if the political will and ability to make hard choices and break this addiction truly exists.
The rewards will be cleaner air, less noise and better health for all. Mass transit alternatives exist and more are under construction. Let's use them.
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