Thai University develops nationwide PM2.5 sensors to study air pollution

A Thai university is installing PM 2.5 sensors around the country to study air pollution. Chulalongkorn University researchers will first put the devices in 200 locations across cities and provinces including the capital Bangkok by the end of April. With the help of the Electricity Generating Authority of Thailand (EGAT), the university plans to add 500 more devices to create a sensor network to detect dust particles in the air. The ‘Sensor For All’ project will allow the public to access the data through an app. Dr Kritchart Wongwailikhit from the Chulalongkorn University said the project seeks to find sustainable solutions after keeping a daily record of the air quality across the country. He said: ‘We have begun installing the sensors and with the support from the Authority, we’ll soon have 300 sensors in the network soon. ‘The project will continue until we reach our goal. It will help predict the air quality and benefit various sections of the government and the public.’ All records will be integrated with the Pollution Control Department’s information and the Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency to generate a real-time air quality index. EGAT officer Charan Khum-Ngeon said: ‘It’s an energy, air quality, and environment management plan called ‘EGAT Air Time’. ‘We will use the sensors to follow up the air quality and to elevate the quality of life in every community. The sensors were already sent to 55 spots and the installations were expected to be complete by April 30.’ Air pollution had been a continous problem in Thailand as records showed alarming levels of PM2.5 dust particles triggered mostly by transportation and biomass burning. Smog is at its worst in the country between January and March when farmers burn crops and there is a winter low-pressure system in which cold air is trapped closer to the ground by warm air above – preventing the pollution from being dispersed naturally. The Thai government has been criticised for its handling of the country’s air pollution crisis – failing to tackle the problem for three consecutive years.