The Ministry of Environment has announced that the Kingdom’s air quality exceeds the recommendations of the World Health Organisation (WHO), allaying public fears about air pollution.

Air quality is assessed by measuring the levels of potentially harmful particles per square metre of air.

The averages in Cambodia measured between 20 and 40 μg/m3, lower than the 50 μg/m3 danger limit set by the WHO.

A February 3 press release from the ministry explained that its “Blue Sky Campaign” was launched in November last year to address the issue of air quality. It called on all relevant domestic and international partners to contribute to the campaign.

Measure have also been taken to prevent wildfires, with detailed guidelines issued to those who conduct burn-offs during the dry season.

“As a result, there has been decrease in the number of wildfires in Cambodia in recent years. The level of air pollution, as measured by the number of PM2.5 particles, is also declining, and remains well below WHO standards,” said the release.

The ministry explained that in order to maintain a beautiful environment and protect public health, the government has introduced the standard use of Euro 4 and Euro 5 fuels, resulting in fewer emissions.

“Air quality protection remains a priority task of the ministry through the active implementation of the Blue Sky Campaign, in line with the circular strategy on environment 2023-28 and phase one of the government’s Pentagonal Strategy,” it said.

It added that it is prepared to cooperate closely with all friendly countries and international organisations to share its experiences in preventing air pollution.

Nuth Sambath, president of the Institute of Medicine, Biology and Agriculture of the Royal Academy of Cambodia, explained on February 4 that air pollution comes from both natural and manmade sources.

Manmade air pollution is generated by fossil fuel emissions from large factories and mining operations, as well as garbage fires, especially when chemicals or tyres are burnt, as this releases toxic substances into the atmosphere.

“Atmospheric pollution can also occur from the use of explosives during conflict, such as the Russian war with Ukraine and the war in the Middle East. Toxic fumes seriously affect our health by lowering the oxygen level in our blood, depleting the body of oxygen and leading to anaemia, or a lack of red blood cells,” he said.

Although Cambodia does not experience bad air pollution, Sambath advised the public to take certain measures to avoid breathing bad air. He recommended people wear masks when travelling on the roads, get regular exercise and spent plenty of time in natural areas like near the sea or rivers. He also recommended that people wash their hands frequently, and that more trees be planted to produce more oxygen.

During a February 2 phone call between minister Eang Sophalleth and Thailand’s Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Jakkapong Sangmanee, the two nations committed to working together to protect air quality and eliminate smog.

The goals of the collaboration are three-fold: They seek to protect the environment of the two nations, while also guaranteeing clean minds and clean health for the people of the two kingdoms.

During the meeting, Sophalleth explained that Cambodia regularly monitors air quality through automated monitoring stations across the country.

He also detailed the many ways in which Cambodia is ready to respond to pollution on land, in the air and in the water. The minister also explained the Blue Sky Campaign, which is similar to Thailand’s “Clear Sky” campaign.