Air pollution worsens in Bangkok

Choking smog: The giant Buddha statue of Wat Paknam Phasi Charoen temple is seen amid air pollution in Bangkok. — Reuters

THE worsening air pollution in Thailand forced several schools in Bangkok to close, according to local reports.

The Bangkok Post reported that 43 provinces, including Bangkok and its suburbs, remained blanketed in smog since Friday.

The report added that atmospheric PM2.5 ranged from 54-119 per cubic metre, forcing several schools in Bangkok and its surrounding areas to close temporarily.Thailand’s safety limit is 50 microgrammes per cubic metre. High levels of PM2.5 pose health risks, especially for people with chronic lung disease.

The government advised Bangkok residents to wear face masks outdoors and work from home on Thursday and Friday.

The report added that Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Secondary School in Pathumwan district announced on Thursday that it would be closed on Friday due to concerns over the respiratory impact on its students.

Jindabamrung School in Khan Na Yao district took similar action in announcing a Friday closure and Monday reopening.

The Thawi Wattha district office also suggested that seven schools under the supervision in the district do the same.

The education ministry has set up coordination centres to monitor the situation in several provinces.

Schools can exercise discretion in their decisions to close if the dust levels are found to be unsafe, according to the ministry.

A total of 376,165 people suffered from health ailments of some kind caused by air pollution this week, an increase of 163,491 from the previous week, according to the ministry.

Of these patients, more than 165,000 suffered from respiratory diseases, 80,248 from skin diseases and 70,206 from eye inflammation.

Dr Narong Aphikulvanich, deputy permanent secretary for the ministry of public health, said that public health emergency operation centres have been set up in 14 provinces affected by PM2.5 to deal with the problem in a more systematic manner.

Some of the provinces include Bangkok and Chiang Mai. — The Straits Times/ANN

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