Thailand’s ‘winter’ brings cool temperatures and heavy PM2.5 pollution
The ongoing cool dry season and lack of winds to blow away dust particles are bringing heavy pollution to many parts of Thailand.
Government spokesman Thanakorn Wangboonkongchana said on Friday that Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed government agencies to keep a close eye on the PM2.5 situation nationwide.
The level of PM2.5 dust recently exceeded safe levels in Bangkok and adjoining provinces and is expected to continue rising because most vehicles in the country use diesel engines.
Dust particles less than 2.5 micrometres in diameter (PM2.5) can penetrate the lungs and impair their function. The elderly and young children are most at risk. The World Health Organisation recommends that PM2.5 readings should stay below 25 for safety, though the Thai government has set the safe level at 50.
Bangkok has been struggling with PM2.5 pollution for several years now and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) set up 70 permanent particle dust measuring stations in different parts of the city.
BMA is also regularly measuring exhaust emissions in areas with heavy traffic, residential zones and public parks, and has deployed monitoring vehicles in other parts of the capital.
As for other provinces, Thanakorn said the pollution came from open fires and neighbouring countries. He added that all provinces have been instructed to monitor pollution and provide information in line with the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry’s plan to put air-pollution controls in place from 2022.
He advised people to avoid outdoor activities, wear masks, especially the N95 type, get their cars tuned regularly and immediately report any outdoor fires.
Meanwhile, Bangkok governor General Aswin Kwanmuang said in a Facebook post on Friday that winds from the Northeast have collided with those from the Southwest, causing the airstream to slow down. This has increased the amount of dust, especially PM2.5 particles, in the air.
This week winds will drop to 11-12 kilometres per hour. Temperatures will also drop by 1 to 3 degrees, which will increase the presence of PM2.5 particles in Bangkok’s Klong Sam Wa, Min Buri, Nong Khaem, Thawee Watthana, Bang Khae, Bang Khunthien and Bang Bon districts.
The level of air pollution in the capital can be monitored via www.bangkokairquality.com, www.air4bangkok.com, www.prbangkok.com and the AirBKK mobile phone application.