Air pollution reaches ‘unhealthy’ levels in Bangkok

Bangkok’s Real-time Air Quality Index reported “unhealthy” levels of air pollution on Wednesday afternoon. The pollution monitor says Bangkok has exceeded 151 points in the morning and reached high PM2.5 levels in multiple districts in the capital.

Red levels were detected in 6 districts of Bangkok including Khlong Sam Wa, Yan Nawa, Wang Thonglang, Nong Khaem, Khlong Toei and Pathum Wan. Nonthaburi’s Pak Kret was also hit by the harmful air pollution level.

The Pollution Control Department said on Wednesday that they expect the PM2.5 level to be high in Bangkok between December 17 and 18 because of low wind. The situation is expected to improve between December 19 and 21 from better airflow.

It’s causing some local residents to question why the pollution has hit Bangkok earlier than normal this year. But Bangkok residents have long called for attempts to combat the toxic smog that sometimes forces authorities to close schools.

In 2019, local authorities dispatched water cannons and water-spraying drones to tackle the city’s worst pollution wave in years.

Atthaphon Charoenchansa, director-general of the Pollution Control Department (PCD) and chairman of the Center for Resolving Air Pollution (EPC), warned city dwellers to use their vehicles conservatively, reduce open burning, and he asked the public to be vigilant for residents living in areas where the amount of PM 2.5 dust reaches red level. He also cautioned those in red zones to avoid outdoor activities, and wear a mask.

Local government officials in Loei province warned sugarcane farmers this week to refrain from burning their fields after reports emerged that some farmers had secretly begun burning.

Research from Thailand’s National Institute of Development Administration (NIDA) suggests Bangkok’s air at its worst can have concerning levels of toxicity, with the lingering smog being full of heavy metals and various carcinogenic compounds.

The Thai capital has some 10 million registered vehicles, hundreds of pollutant-pumping factories, and numerous daily cremations, which experts say all contribute to the worsening annual smog. But the widespread burning of sugarcane fields in northern provinces is also contributing to annual pollution levels.


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