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Air pollution choking most of Greater Bangkok

PM2.5 level rises to four times more than the WHO-recommended cap

The Pollution Control Department is warning that the air pollution in Greater Bangkok, which saw almost all of 50 air quality stations hitting beyond-safety levels of PM2.5 tiny particulate dust levels on Friday (January 10), may continue into this weekend.

Friday was the first time this season that PM2.5 levels at multiple stations flashed “code red” status with 90 micrograms/cubic metre of air and above. There were six “code-red” stations as of 7am and the figure rose to 10 “code-red” stations as of noon.

Photo Credit: Pollution Control Department

With exception of Lat Phrao that reported 49mcg, 49 stations were well beyond-safe levels ranging from 55mcg-113mcg as of noon.

The 10 “code-red” sites were: Rama III-Charoenkrung area in Bangkok’s Bang Kho Laem district (99mcg), Rama III Road in Yannawa district (92mcg), Charoen Nakhon Road in Khlong San district (92mcg), Thon Buri 5 railway officials’ residential area in Bangkok Noi district (100mcg), Phetch Kasem Road in Phasi Charoen district (104mcg), Sam Sen Road in Phra Nakhon district (112mcg), Rama II Road in Bang Khun Thien district (100mcg), as well as Tambon Song Khanong in Samut Prakan’s Phra Pradaeng district (98mcg), Tambon Pak Nam in Samut Prakan’s Muang district (102mcg) and Tambon Mahachai in Samut Sakhon’s Muang district (113mcg).

The Thai safety standard is 50mcg – which is double the World Health Organisation-recommended cap of 25mcg.

Air Visual, a popular application monitoring global air pollution, on Friday listed Bangkok among the world’s top 10 cities with the worst air. Bangkok’s air pollution level according to the US AQI standard stood at 183 as of 10am and at 172 at noon.

Photo Credit: Bangkok Governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang (www.facebook.com/aswinkwanmuang/)

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) governor Pol General Aswin Kwanmuang posted on his Facebook page on Friday that the PM2.5 levels in the capital could affect people’s health and urged everyone, especially the elderly and small children as well as those with chronic ailments such as  high blood pressure, heart disease and diabetes, to wear face masks and refrain from outdoor activities this period.

Aswin said the city units were implementing measures to curb the PM2.5 dust – which stemmed mainly from car exhaust fumes, as well as outdoor burning, construction dust and industrial activity – and had dispatched health officials to provide protection guidelines in various communities.

As many schools were today celebrating National Children’s Day, which falls on Saturday (January 11), Aswin instructed the district offices with high PM2.5 levels to tell schools to suspend outdoor activities.

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha posted on his social media page (www.facebook.com/prayutofficial/) that, since the PM2.5 levels were high, he had instructed police to be strict about stopping vehicles emitting black exhaust smoke. These law-violators would be put on a watch list for extra scrutiny when their vehicles went through mandatory inspection prior to the renewal of road tax and car license. The premier also urged people to alert the authorities such vehicles by calling the hotline 1584 and to protect themselves from pollution by wearing face masks and avoiding outdoor activities.

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