A cloud of pollution covers the Thai capital, Bangkok, January 14, 2019. – Romeo GACAD / AFP

To chase the cloud of pollution that stagnates over
Bangkok for several days, with a harmful particle density well above the ceiling set by WHO, the authorities
Thai people plan to cause artificial rainfall.

"The artificial trigger of rain may take place tomorrow [mardi]but that will depend on the winds and the humidity, "said Pralong Dumrongthai, director general of the pollution control department, on Monday.

The 10th most polluted city in the world

The technique involves dropping vast quantities of chemicals in the clouds to cause the formation of ice crystals that accelerate the break-up of showers. PM2.5 fine particle levels (2.5 micrometers or less in diameter), considered to be the most harmful to health because they penetrate deepest into the lungs, reached 102 micrograms per cubic meter in places, depending on the pollution control department.

The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends a maximum daily exposure level of 25 micrograms per cubic meter. This is the worst episode of pollution in a year, according to Greenpeace. "Monday morning, according to our measurements,
Bangkok was the 10th most polluted city in the world, "said Tara Buakamsri, director of the NGO
Thailand, adding that this "should continue for several more days".

Nearly 9.8 million cars for 12 million inhabitants

In particular, the lack of wind and rain, humidity and the presence of a cover of hot air over the capital that prevents the dispersion of pollutants. "The situation is not as alarming as in China or New Delhi," said Pralong Dumrongthai. Most schools remained open in the capital. But severe episodes of pollution are more and more common in Bangkok.

In question, the exponential increase of vehicles in the city became one of the most congested on the planet. It now has some 9.8 million cars, 2.5 of which still run on diesel, for a population of about 12 million. "We will continue to talk to automakers who are willing to produce more electric vehicles," Pralong Dumrongthai said.

A pollution episode of more than 40 days last winter

For Tara Buakamsri, it is also necessary to "improve the public transport system, by reducing the price of the ticket for the underground and underground railway lines, which is as expensive as a polluting taxi." "We must also force the power plants, very greedy coal, to use more clean energy," he added.

Last winter, the pollution episode lasted for several weeks from the end of December to the end of February with more than 40 days when the level of fine particle pollution exceeded the limits of WHO. Symbolically, Greenpeace activists had delivered in late February 2018 to the ruling military junta since 2014 a glass hourglass filled with polluted air from Bangkok.

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