What can be done to reduce air pollution and improve air quality? 

Air pollution is a problem increasingly faced by many countries. Bangkok and other cities often see levels of particulate matter in the air rise to unsafe levels. In Laos, the natural resource and environment sector closely monitors the quality of air in Vientiane. Despite high levels of pollution detected in isolated places on occasions, officials say the overall situation remains satisfactory. Vientiane Times sought opinions from people around the country about this issue.

 

Ms Mailor, a student in Xaysomboun province: Air pollution is a problem that affects humans, animals and crops in many places on the planet. I learnt a little about it in class. Carbon dioxide is a major pollutant that comes from cars, planes, power plants, and other human activities that involve the burning of fossil fuels. It is a greenhouse gas and a major contributor to climate change and global warming.  The solution to air pollution is to move away from fossil fuels and replace them with clean and renewable energy sources that don’t wreak havoc on our planet.  Solar, wind and geothermal are alternative sources of energy that countries everywhere should be exploring. It is equally important for us to reduce our consumption of energy by adopting responsible habits in our everyday lives.  I call on all members of the public to ask themselves what they can do to make the environment cleaner.

Mr Sinxay, an official in Xayaboury province: I heard last week that the natural resource and environment sector had stationed air quality monitors at four locations in Vientiane.  It’s good that air quality is monitored but it is more important that work is done to prevent pollution in the first place. Prevention is better than a cure, as they say.  Air quality here is good compared with other countries, but this doesn’t mean we should be complacent. One problem is that many people don’t really understand the principles of environmental awareness. They don’t really know how to assess what they are doing as it relates to the environment.  They don’t know about recycling and composting and appropriate disposal of waste.  I believe most Lao people want to protect the environment and would do what they can if they knew what to do.  I would like the government to provide more information to the public on the things they can do to help the environment.
 
Ms Pathoumma, a resident of Pakngum district, Vientiane: I’ve heard about the air pollution in neighbouring countries and understand that it is a health risk. I don’t know much more about it than that.  It feels like Vientiane has been much warmer over the October to January period this year. Normally, there are lots of nights when there is a distinct chill in the air and I have to wear a jacket.  This year I haven’t had to wear a coat once.  People need to stop cutting down and burning the forests to stop the planet warming. People need the earth’s forests to survive because they absorb carbon dioxide and help keep the air clean. 

Ms Kingtavanh Thongvidavone, an official in Sikhottabong district, Vientiane: I often walk away from my computer to relax my eyes. Through my window I can see the Phou Khaokhuay hill range and the woods below. I used to be able to see it quite clearly but nowadays it is sometimes obscured by smoke or haze.  Even though air pollution isn’t seen as a significant problem in Vientiane, everyone should be mindful that it doesn’t take much for it to become worse.  There are many causes of air pollution, and most of them arise from human activities. I would like to call on everyone to stop burning garbage and chopping down trees, and make sure they don’t do anything to mess up the rivers.   

By Lamphone Pasanthong
(Latest Update February 5, 2019)


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