Dept ties incense to PM2.5 spike

Dept ties incense to PM2.5 spike

Public urged to seek electric alternatives

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) is urging the public to refrain from burning paper offerings and incense during the Chinese New Year in an effort to keep the level of ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants down over the period.

The burning of gold and silver joss sticks is commonplace during the Chinese New Year period, and many people light incense and firecrackers to honour their ancestors and mark the new year.

However, PCD director-general Preeyaporn Suwanaged yesterday said the custom causes air pollution to spike over the holidays, posing a silent threat to individual health.

Excessive exposure to PM2.5 pollutants can cause eye irritation, nasal congestion, frequent coughing and a sore throat.

Ms Preeyaporn said Environment Minister Pol Gen Phatcharavat Wongsuwan is concerned by the adverse impact air pollution has on people’s health, so the ministry is urging the public to use electric incense sticks instead.

The PCD director-general also suggested people use environment-friendly joss sticks and avoid lighting incense and other paper offerings in poorly ventilated areas.

Meanwhile, the assistant secretary to the Bangkok governor and Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) spokesman, Aekvarunyoo Amrapala said the BMA has set up monitoring sites near fire-prone areas, such as Chinese shrines and crowded communities, in an effort to prevent a blaze from breaking out.

The BMA also urged everyone to use electric incense sticks and avoid any burning papers to reduce dust pollution.

“Burning paper offerings should be limited or eliminated altogether. Mitigating the impact of PM2.5 particles during the Lunar New Year holiday requires a collective effort,” he said.

The capital and several other provinces have been plagued by fine dust pollution since Thailand entered the cool season.

As of yesterday, high levels of fine dust were reported in 48 provinces, though Bangkok was not on the list.