Thailand’s cool, dry winter brings back PM2.5 pollution woes
A recent poll conducted by the Department of Health showed that though people in Thailand are afraid of contracting the Omicron Covid-19 variant, they are also concerned about air pollution.
Dr Suwanchai Wattanaying-charoencha, the department’s director-general, said on Thursday that the presence of PM2.5 particulate matter in the air has exceeded safe levels in Bangkok, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Phichit and Phitsanulok.
The World Health Organisation recommends that PM2.5 should be no higher than 25 micrograms per millilitre of air. Thailand, however, sets this level at 50mcg.
PM2.5 refers to dust particles that measure 2.5 microns or less in diameter and are fine enough to travel deeply into the respiratory tract, causing throat and lung irritation. It can also affect people with breathing difficulties.
Suwanchai said the PM2.5 level is likely to rise further at the end of this month, due to weak winds. However, he said, stronger winds from the South China Sea mid this month should ease the situation in the upper Northeast as well as Bangkok and nearby areas for a while.
The poll showed that most people are worried about PM2.5 damaging their health, while 80 per cent said they feared long-term damage. Meanwhile, 70 per cent said they knew where to find information about PM2.5 levels.
The department has suggested that people can take the following steps to protect themselves from pollution and Covid-19:
• Check out the latest air-quality reading via the “Air4Thai” application before leaving your home.
• Carry extra masks.
• Maintain your health by getting enough rest and drinking a lot of water.
• Eat a balanced diet and consume more fruit and vegetables that carry antioxidants.
• Keep doors and windows closed and seal any holes.
• Keep your home dust-free.
• Avoid outdoor activities when the PM2.5 level exceeds safe levels.
• People with chronic conditions should keep up with their medication.
• Report any abnormal symptoms to the doctor immediately.
• Help reduce PM2.5 levels by not burning fires outdoors, cutting down on exhaust emissions and planting more trees.
Details on how people can protect themselves and the latest PM2.5 reading is available via Line account “One4U” or air4thai.pcd.go.th website.
Dr Suwanchai also said masks don’t just offer protection from Covid-19, but also from fine dust particles in the air. Hence, he said, people must wear masks while outdoors.