Publication Asia - Southeast Asia Contemporary Breath

Documenting air pollution in Phnom Penh, Cambodia



Sereyrath Mech,

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Air pollution in Phnom Penh comes from various sources such as vehicle exhaust, road construction, industry, and other factors. Air pollutants like particulates and chemicals can lead to climate change, slow economic growth, and have negative impacts on human health. For instance, one type of so-called “particulate matter”, PM2.5, is reported between 15 µg/m3–30 µg/m3 in the city on a daily basis. 50 µg/m3 is generally considered a dangerous level of air quality. Some chemical pollutants cannot be measured or studied due to insufficient technical support and human resources in the field.

Phnom Penh is on its way to becoming the second-fastest-growing urban space in East Asia. This is a good sign, but sustainable development has to be brought into consideration along with concrete implementation, which in turn desperately requires cooperation from involved sectors. This is particularly true of the upper layers of government given the global nature of the issue.

“Contemporary Breath” appeared as a photography book consisting of several photo series illustrating various sources of air pollution in Phnom Penh from a journalistic perspective. More specifically, the work conceptually aims to reflect the current causes of air pollution by using a contemporary style. To achieve this audiences play an important role completing the meaning of the story.

As you read, please try to explore each photo from your own experience before reading the photo captions

About the Artist: Sereyrath Mech
A senior student at the Royal University of Phnom Penh’s Department of Media and Communication, Sereyrath Mech is passionate about nature and interested in photography—particularly street photography. She’s finally come out with the project “Contemporary Breath” as her Bachelor’s thesis with support from the Rosa-Luxemburg-Stiftung’s Southeast Asia Office in Hanoi.