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Essay: Sources of air pollution

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  • Subject area(s): Environmental studies essays
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  • Published: 15 November 2017*
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  • Words: 840 (approx)
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Air pollution is contamination of the indoor or outdoor environment by any chemical, physical or biological agent that modifies the natural characteristics of the atmosphere (WHO, n.d.).
There are many sources of air pollution but the main cause of air pollution in Cambodia is the increasing number of vehicles on the road and old generators, which utilise fuels to support industrial activities and services (Country Environmental Profile: Cambodia, 2012). Phnom Penh municipal officials stated there were 400,000 motor vehicles and more than one million motorcycles operating in Phnom Penh in 2015. The more the transportation, the more fuel burned and pollutants released. The burning of the petrol causes the emission of dirty gases directly into the atmosphere. The hundreds of tuk-tuks and buses continually operating around the Angkor Wat area significantly threaten the air quality there. In 2014, the Global Post reported that the air pollution in Angkor Wat, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was a significant problem (Open Development Cambodia, 2016).

Industries and small production facilities also emit gases such as nitric oxide (NO), nitrogen dioxide (NO2), carbon monoxide (CO), carbon dioxide (CO2) and ozone (O3) due to the combustion of fossil fuel (Phyrun, 2013). This leads to the increase of the level of air pollution. The key challenge that Cambodia’s energy sector faces is heavy dependence on fossil fuel. Most of the energy generated in Cambodia come from heavy fuel oil and diesel generators (Open Development Cambodia, 2015). Cambodia depends mainly on fossil fuel in the production of electricity. This gives rise to serious air pollution. According to the World Bank collection of development indicators, Cambodia consumed a total of 30.68 % of fossil fuel energy in 2014 (Trading Economics, n.d.). Fossil fuel consists of coal, oil, petroleum, and natural gas products. The consumption of hydro energy, wind energy and solar energy are as follow:

Hydro energy consumption (% in TFEC): 1.99 %

Wind energy consumption (% in TFEC): 0 %

Solar energy consumption (% in TFEC): 0.0115 %

(Source: Trading Economics. https://tradingeconomics.com/cambodia/fossil-fuel-energy-consumption-percent-of-total-wb-data.html )

Besides, felling forests to secure short-term economic gains for few individuals and groups, through land concessions that are awarded either for farming or mineral extraction, leads to the destruction of much of the forest cover. This is another threatening environmental issue in Cambodia (Country Environmental Profile: Cambodia, 2012). The rate of deforestation and degradation rises due to the increased logging activities, uncontrolled forest fires, increased demand for agricultural land and fuelwood for charcoal production as well as other domestic usage (Phyrun, 2013). Deforestation affects the air that human breathe. This is because all trees take in carbon dioxide and other pollutants which are known to cause a lot of problems in the atmosphere. As a result, human have to breathe in dirtier and polluted air.


The most available resources of Cambodia to resolve the air pollution are hydroelectric power, solar energy, wind energy and forests. Alternative energy sources include hydropower and solar are considered abundant. The potential of these resources remains largely untapped. Cambodia is endowed with a high technical potential for hydropower, estimated at 8,000 to 10,000 MW of installed capacity (Country Environmental Profile: Cambodia, 2012). The country’s hydroelectric generating potential is considerable, especially from the swift current of the middle Mekong River where it flows through Stoeng Treng and Kracheh provinces. Cambodia’s main natural resource is the forests, which cover approximately 70 percent of the country (Ross, 1990).

To cope with the problem of air pollution caused by transportation, carpooling and the using of public transportation should be implemented. Government should provide more public transports that enough to accommodate the number of citizens especially during peak hours. Government should also encourage the people to take part in carpooling in order to reduce the number of vehicles on the road.

Instead of using fossil fuels to generate energy, the country can use hydroelectric power, wind energy and solar energy as the alternative energy sources. As the population increases and industry expands, Cambodia’s consumption of electricity has been growing rapidly. There is a need to grow the energy sector in an environmentally sustainable way. In my opinion, the burning fossil fuels should be banned in generating electricity. Cambodia should make good use of the available energy sources include hydroelectric power, wind energy and solar energy. Cambodia should utilize these energy sources in the electricity production. This can effectively reduce the emission of the dirty gases into the atmosphere and enhance the air quality in Cambodia.

Clearing of forests leads to increased carbon footprint. Trees have a lot of benefits such as absorb carbon dioxide and expel oxygen to provide fresh air. Clearance of forest leads to emissions of very significant amounts of CO2. The best solution to deforestation is to conserve the forests. As the main natural resource of Cambodia, forests should be protected and utilize wisely. After doing some researches, I find that developing ecotourism is the best way to promote sustainable forestry management and conservation of the environment. Ecotourism has a great potential to save the forest and maintain high biodiversity forest ecosystems. People in Cambodia can enjoy a better quality of air at the same time.

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