While residents of Chiang Mai may justifiably feel, Depressed, Down hearted and downright Outraged at the failure of the authorities to take effective action against dangerous air borne pollution, even to the point where the governor castigated the press corps for wearing facemasks, Dr Thipsukon Khumsaeng (Dr Bae) is on our side, on the streets, measuring air borne carcinogens.

Dr Thipsukon Khumsaeng, CMU Physics DeptDr Bae lectures in the Department of Physics and Materials Science at Chiang Mai University and is in the early phase of a two month study to augment the decade long work of the Pollution Control Department of daily air quality monitoring at stations across Thailand, which can be viewed at aqmthai.com.

Her study concentrates on analysis of known carcinogens in the form of aromatic hydrocarbons which adhere to fine particles in motor exhaust. Particles lodge in the lungs and are then taken by the blood stream and stored in the body’s fatty tissue.

Standing in Nimmanhaemin Rd opposite a large private infant’s school, Dr Bae explained that her study involved taking  filter samples of roadside air over two consecutive seven hour periods, from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m. This process is to be done twice for each of three sampling stations in Sirimanklajan Rd and the Hua Lin corner at the bottom of Huay Keow Rd as well as in Nimmanhaemin.

“I chose this spot” she told me “because it is so busy with people, and I am concerned that children at the school will be affected. I plan to publish the results in a scientific journal and also provide them to the Traffic Police and Municipal Government.”

Dr Bae thinks the Nimmanhaemin area and Suthep Rd by the entrance to Maharat (Suan Dok) Hospital are likely to be the areas in Chiang Mai where many people are exposed to the highest levels of vehicular pollution.

Keep tuned for news on the progress of this study.

Yupparat Air Quality Monitoring Station

Yupparat Air Quality Monitoring Station