Air pollution has made over 1.3 million Thais sick this year
More than 1.32 million Thai people have reported sick in 2023 due to PM2.5 pollution, the Disease Control Department (DCD) said.
A total of 1,325,838 patients suffered from air pollution-related diseases during the first five days of January, department director-general Dr Opas Karnkawinpong said.
“The PM2.5 [particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns in diameter] level has been over 51 micrograms per cubic metre [µg/m3] of air for more than three consecutive days in 15 provinces, which has begun to affect the people’s health,” he said.
Any level above 50µg/m3 is unsafe and can cause chronic diseases such as lung and heart problems.
The 15 provinces are: Nan, Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Phrae, Phayao, Lamphun, Lampang, Mae Hong Son, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Tak, Phitsanulok, Phetchabun, Nonthaburi, and all 50 districts of Bangkok.
“An emergency operations centre was opened for public health in these 15 provinces and we are opening more in six other provinces,” Opas said.
Another 36 provinces are also reporting PM2.5 levels above 51µg/m3, but for less than three days, he added.
“This year’s PM2.5 levels are higher than last year's partly because there was less travel during the past two years due to the pandemic, resulting in less pollution,” he said.
The Pollution Control Department has forecast that while Bangkok and its nearby provinces will have better air conditions from March 9-14, helped by the southeasterly winds, pollution in the upper and lower northern region would tend to worsen.
“Though pollution is expected to gradually decrease in the summer, it will stay for another couple of weeks,” he said.
He advised people to avoid outdoor activities during this time and continue with patient care.
There were 196,311 cases of patients falling sick due to air pollution this week, up from 161,839 last week.
There have been 583,238 cases of respiratory diseases, up 85,910 from the previous week, 242,805 cases of eye infections, up 36,537, 267,161 cases of inflammatory dermatitis, up 35,878, and 208,880 cases of heart and cerebrovascular disease, up 33,413.
Air quality can be checked daily on the AirBKK application, www.airbkk.com, as well as the Facebook pages of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration and Environment Department.