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Increase in air particulates raises concerns: Ministry

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Air pollution in Phnom Penh’s Meanchey district in January 2020. Hean Rangsey

Increase in air particulates raises concerns: Ministry

The Ministry of Environment has instructed its municipal and provincial departments to take measures to control air quality, after some control stations showed that air quality levels have dropped. Of particular concern was the increase in particulate matter (PM10) and fine particulate matter (PM2.5), which have harmful effects on people’s health.

In a notice on January 31, the ministry said the air quality recorded at stations across the country indicated an alarming drop in quality. The levels PM10 and PM2.5 had increased above safe levels in some provinces, it said.

The main causes behind the increase of PM10 and PM2.5 were the smoke released by industrial factories, diesel vehicles and other fuel being burned. Smoke from wild or controlled fires, burning household waste and dust from construction sites were also contributing factors.

The ministry instructed that all relevant sub-national authorities and environmental departments take action to prevent wild fires and the burning of rubbish in households and at dumpsites.

“Construction sites must take steps to reduce the amount of dust they generated, while the public must not burn grass, hay or other agricultural waste,” it said.

Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra said air quality in Cambodia was still mostly at a good level, although the level of particles was increasing. Air pollution is a regional and global problem that knows no borders, so all countries must take it into account, he said.

“As part of its measures to reduce air pollution, the ministry initiated the ‘Clean Air Plan of Cambodia’ with technical and financial cooperation from the Asia Pacific Clean Air Partnership (APCAP) and Sweden-based the Stockholm Environment Institute,” he added.

This strategic document provides key information – including current and future air quality conditions, the projected situation in 2030, and major air pollution sources – and legal standards and measures to reduce emissions in each contributing sector.

The ministry warned that long-term exposure to inert particles caused disease and could be responsible for premature and underweight babies and respiratory diseases in children, along with a decrease in neurological development and brain function.

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