So you’ve heard a lot of good stuff from us about Khon Kaen. Well here’s some bad news, a Greenpeace study ranked Khon Kaen and Saraburi as the cities with the most air pollution in Thailand.
The study ran from January to June this year and ranked Khon Kaen number 1 for high levels of PM 2.5 a very harmful pollutant that can get into the blood stream. It was higher last year and is way above Bangkok.
We can only hope that the rainy season is helping to clean the air at the moment and the latest levels recorded are in the ‘moderate’ range. Although it seems more regular and detailed monitoring is needed..
When considering the reasons for these very high levels I had a look around Khon Kaen City yesterday. Three things were evident immediately;
Firstly, the urban area is extremely concentrated, any readings in the middle of town you would expect to be high as traffic still travels directly through town on route to surrounding regions. (The reading were taken at the Water Resource Management Centre).
Secondly there are smoke stacks slap bang in the middle of town. Something we confine to refineries or power stations in the west right in the centre of the city.
And finally, there are a lot of old vehicles and tuk-tuks intermixed with the growing amount of new huge ‘pick ups’ that seem to be the main seller here, no matter where you live or what job you do.
So there are some of the reasons. We like to promote Khon Kaen here at the Times but the fact we are highlighting this means it must be a problem. Can anything be done?
The rail link will help to ease cross town traffic, so that’s a big positive. Let’s hope factories can be persuaded to relocate outside the urban area.
But in my opinion, (backed up by Greenpeace data) the biggest issue is vehicle emissions and that will need a lot of work to re-educate drivers.
Ok so we’re not going to get Isaan farmers in Electric cars just yet. But lets get a park and ride system on the rail link and keep those agricultural vehicles were they belong, out of town. Then get an emissions tested only vehicle rule for the city centre – that would solve the problem.
Of course once you’re out into the country, it normally only takes a few minutes from the city centre, the air starts to clear.