Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Environment ministry sounds alarm over rising air pollution

Environment ministry sounds alarm over rising air pollution

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The ministry has voiced concerns over the air quality in Cambodia, which it notes has been on the decline. KANDAL PROVINCIAL HALL

Environment ministry sounds alarm over rising air pollution

The Ministry of Environment has instructed the Phnom Penh and provincial authorities to tackle air pollution by taking measures to prevent forest fires, the burning of solid waste, the burning of construction waste and burning at landfills.

The ministry is concerned about the air quality in Cambodia, which has been on the decline. Air pollution is harmful to both human health and the environment, it said.

In a December 8 letter addressed to the Phnom Penh municipal and provincial governors and seen by The Post on December 13, the ministry said that at the beginning of the dry season every year, especially during December to April, the air quality condition deteriorates alarmingly.

This is especially true regarding an increase in the concentration of inert particles floating in the air, known as PM10 and PM2.5, which are known to be harmful to human health.

The PM stands for particulate matter and the numbers denote particulate matter that is 10 micrometres or smaller and particulate matter that is 2.5 micrometres or smaller. Both are inhalable. For reference, a human hair is on average about 70 micrometres.

The amount of both PM10 and PM2.5 in Phnom Penh’s air is above the limits established as safety standards, and this poses a risk to people’s health and the environment.

The letter added that through the survey they had determined that the main sources and activities that caused the increase in the concentration of inert particles included emissions from industrial operations, vehicles using diesel fuel, wild forest fires, the burning of agricultural waste, the controlled burning of grass and forests for agriculture, the burning of solid waste at landfills and dust from construction sites.

The letter urged municipal and provincial governors to aid in the dissemination of information to the public about measures they can take to prevent forest fires and to try to curtail the practice of controlled burning for agriculture and the burning of agricultural waste and landfill waste.

Governors are also encouraged to employ measures to prevent dust from construction sites and improve road conditions to help reduce the amount of dust from roads and in public places.

The ministry stressed that they must educate people to no longer burn rubbish or solid waste and to stop burning grass and burning other agricultural waste.

Furthermore, all streets and public spaces should be cleaned regularly and authorities at all levels should be prepared to put out fires in case of any unexpected wildfires.

Preah Sihanouk Provincial Hall spokesman Kheang Phearum said on December 13 that the provincial hall had received the letter. He said the provincial governor would schedule a meeting to disseminate the contents of the letter to all relevant authorities.

“I think the prevention of air pollution is very important to the people and the environment, and we are all ready to participate in solving these problems. So we have to consider it as an important issue, and officials at all levels must pay close attention, especially to inform the people so that they understand that what they do today to stop pollution may keep them safe and healthy tomorrow,” he said.

Heng Yon Kora, executive director of the Community Sanitation and Recycling Organisation (CSARO), said on December 13 that forest fires and burning waste both cause many environmental problems, especially air pollution. Therefore, this issue requires both vigilance against unintentional forest fires and the public in general understanding that they must no longer burn their waste to dispose of it.

He added that officials must act as role models to demonstrate a wide range of outreach activities so that the public will be prepared to put out any fires in a timely manner.

“Our authorities have to work actively in the local community because most of the local people burn their rubbish when they have no place to dump it. And some factories should find ways to reduce the smoke they release into the air.

“As for the waste, if we pile it up in the same place for years it can actually catch fire underground on its own, so we need to ask ourselves what should be done to prevent this from happening again,” he said.

MOST VIEWED

  • South Korea’s first lady brings hope to ill boy

    South Korea’s first lady Kim Keon-hee – wife of current president of the Republic of Korea, Yoon Suk Yeol – met with a 14-year-boy with congenital heart disease during her trip to the Kingdom for the ASEAN Summit. After their meeting it was announced that the

  • Hun Sen gets Covid, shuns G20, APEC summits

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said he has tested positive for Covid-19 in Indonesia, where he is slated to attend the G20 summit in his capacity of the ASEAN chair. In a social media post addressing the Cambodian public, he said: “Before leaving Cambodia, I always

  • Moody’s sets outlook rating to ‘negative’ for Cambodia

    US global rating agency Moody’s Investors Service Inc on November 15 announced that it downgraded Cambodia’s outlook from “stable” to “negative” and maintained its B2 local and foreign currency issuer ratings. “The negative outlook reflects a deteriorating external position as illustrated by the severe

  • Hun Sen’s Covid infection caused by ‘weakened antibody’ after summit

    Prime Minister Hun Sen said exhaustion from heavy workload before and during the recent ASEAN Summit may have led to him contracting Covid-19 due to his weakened immune system, while rejecting speculations that the infection was caused by leaders of some countries who did not

  • Korean first lady paves way for ill boy’s surgery

    A 14-year-old boy with congenital heart disease who was lucky enough to meet with South Korean first lady Kim Keon-hee may get the chance of a lifetime and receive surgery and treatment at Asan Medical Center in Seoul, South Korea. After seeing his plight, many

  • Kingdom’s rice crowned world’s No1

    Cambodia’s Phka Rumduol jasmine variety has been crowned the World’s Best Rice for the fifth time at the TRT (The Rice Trader) World Rice Conference in Phuket, Thailand on November 17, according to leaders of the Kingdom’s apex rice industry body. Phka Rumduol