Foul air: Vet warns Bangkok smog can be fatal for birds

FRIDAY, MARCH 10, 2023

A veterinarian is sounding the alarm about the threat Bangkok’s air pollution poses to migratory birds after treating one that fell from the sky, likely because it had inhaled too much dust.

“While flying through the city’s smog, the bird had such trouble breathing it lost consciousness,” said Kaset Sutecha, a veterinarian at Kasetsart University’s Veterinarian Research and Academic Centre who treated the bird.

“Nature is sending us a clear warning signal. It is time for everyone to take environmental problems seriously,” Kaset wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.

In the post he described diagnosing and treating an adult Oriental dollarbird that had fallen from the sky into the front yard of a home near Lumphini Park.

He said the house owner suspected the bird was sick from inhaling PM2.5 dust.

An x-ray found that it had pneumonia in both of its lungs, but had not sustained broken bones in the fall.

Oriental dollarbirds migrate through Bangkok during this season, the veterinarian said.

On Friday morning, data from the city’s air-quality monitoring stations across 36 areas showed PM2.5 levels ranging from 50 to 66 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Any level above 50 micrograms per cubic metre of air is considered unsafe. Long-term exposure to PM2.5 is linked to chronic illness, including lung and heart ailments.

The Thai Meteorological Department forecasts that on Saturday and Sunday, southeasterly winds will flow through the capital, reducing the amount of PM2.5 in the air.