Timely and accurate data is invaluable to decision makers. Currently, Thailand has one of the best ambient air quality monitoring systems in the world. The ambient air quality is gathered from a nationwide network. Daily reports, as well as monthly or annual, can be readily produced. Reporting is also quick to react on sudden changes on levels of particular matters.
Air quality deterioration brought about by recent economic growth has been a major problem in Thailand. There is growing awareness from both the government and the public on the need to address rising air pollution levels. The country is quite successful in improving air quality in urban areas, specifically Bangkok. Emissions from traffic are being reduced due to the introduction of unleaded gasoline and compulsory catalytic converters as early as 1995. The establishment of various emission standards also helped alleviate air pollution. However, continuous economic growth still puts pressure on air quality. Emissions in certain parts of the country need to be improved. Newly emerging emission types need to be monitored as well. Updated data need to be available to facilitate modeling of various scenarios. This in turn serves as input for decision and policy making on various issues. To address these concerns, the Pollution Control Department (PCD) of Thailand, with the assistance from the Swedish government, developed an Air Quality Management System which aims to address information needs on air quality.
The system’s foremost aim is to build a monitoring and information system that deals with air quality. It integrates various inputs from sources according to location, areas, and industries. The endeavor also provided the PCD the necessary skills and know-how to handle advanced analysis of certain pollution compounds. It also prompted the decentralization of monitoring from Bangkok to other provinces.
Timely and accurate data is invaluable to decision makers. Currently, Thailand has one of the best ambient air quality monitoring systems in the world. The ambient air quality is gathered from a nationwide network. Daily reports, as well as monthly or annual, can be readily produced. Reporting is also quick to react on sudden changes on levels of particular matters. The system also has an established emission database containing from various sources (industries, domestic sources, traffic). The data can also accommodate modeling of specific scenarios. It can analyze the contribution to air quality of specific industries, and can measure potential impacts to pollution of different traffic measures (e.g. re-routing, road construction). An important aspect of the system is to make information accessible as well to various users. As of date, the information can be accessed from Thailand’s Department Operation Center, the Ministerial Operation Center, and the PCD website.
Human Resources and Skills An intensive training was provided to the PCD staff of the Monitoring Subdivision and the Air Quality Subdivision. The practical training was conducted by the assisting Swedish experts. Over-all, the training on the system lasted for 50 weeks. One of the difficulties encountered by the PCD staff is the heavy workload. This stems from the presence of other urgent tasks of the staff, and the ever-increasing environmental concerns in Thailand. However, a thorough training is required since manning the system demands specialized skills from a dedicated staff. Material and Resources The system is very dependent on the availability of an updated computer hardware system. For this endeavor, the PCD financed the enhancement of its hardware and system. Regional workstations were established to enable decentralization of some of the functions. Given the complexity of the system, the PCD has to commit on conducting regular service and maintenance of the hardware. Investment on future upgrades is also required. The monitoring stations of the PCD also require regular service checks and maintenance to ensure reliable and high quality data. Institutional Support One of the difficulties encountered by this endeavor is the decentralization of tasks from the central to the regional offices. The foremost reason for the difficulty is the lack of resources in the regional offices and the competing tasks that confronts the local staff. For decentralization to be successful, resources should be allocated for the capacity-building of local and regional staff. In the case of Thailand, the intended funds for establishing the decentralized offices were reduced due to the Asian financial crisis.
Contact Person/Office: Pollution Control Department (PCD), Thailand. 92 Soi Phahon Yothin, Phahon Yothin Road, Sam Sen Nai, Phayathai District, Bangkok 10400, Thailand.