Air pollution hits worst levels so far this year

Central Thailand saw the worst air quality since the start of the year Friday, with the capital Bangkok reaching an unhealthy level of 174 on the Air Quality Index (AQI) in the morning.

Citizens are being advised to wear masks outside, run an air purifier, close their windows and avoid exercising outdoors due to the levels of PM2.5 dust.

Swiss technology company IQAir AirVisual released statistics on Friday morning labelling most of Thailand’s central provinces with the colour codes red and purple – air quality deemed unhealthy and very unhealthy, respectively.

The AQI in Bangkok was the highest in January so far, beating the previous high of 169 a week earlier, according to the company’s website.

Air pollution in five provinces in Thailand on Friday were labelled as purple, with AQI levels of 201 to 300. The provinces are Samut Prakarn, Nakhon Pathom, Bangkok, Sara Buri, and Rayong.

“We have seen a peak in the levels of air pollution in the central region these past several days,” commented Somkuan Tonjan, the director of the Central Weather Forecast Department at the Meteorological Department of Thailand (TMD). Pollution levels going forwards “will depend on how much wind turbulence, speed, and rain are able to wash out the pollutants,” he said.

Since Thailand hasn’t been getting much rain or wind the past week, the PM2.5 dust in the air is “well accumulated” and “not moving,” he told Thai Enquirer. 

“But we expect the wind to pick up again and see the colour [red] change to orange and hopefully yellow by the end of the month.”

Thailand is considered to be one of the most polluted countries in the world, with its central and northern region suffering from the worst air pollutants on a yearly basis. In 2019, Thailand was ranked as the 28th most polluted country out of the 98 countries ranked in IQAir’s 2019 World Air Quality Report.

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