Bangkok urges residents to work from home as air pollution expected to worsen

Bangkok and other Thai cities have grappled with poor air quality in recent years. PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK – Thai authorities urged Bangkok residents to work from home and wear respirator masks outdoors as air pollution level worsens in one of the world’s most-visited cities. 

Residents in the Thai capital of more than 10 million should work from home if possible, or switch from personal vehicles to public transport options if they need to commute, Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said in a statement on Tuesday.

The authorities will seek to control activities causing dust particles such as outdoor burning, construction and combustion from truck engines, he said.

Air quality in Bangkok has been mostly at unhealthy levels since the weekend, with the authorities warning that the hazardous dust particles, known as PM2.5, may exceed safe levels again later this week.

While the city’s air quality was moderate on Wednesday morning, it is set to slide to unhealthy levels from Thursday, according to AirVisual.  

Bangkok and other Thai cities have grappled with poor air quality in recent years, with pollution tending to get worse in the dry season around December to February. The authorities will “intensively monitor” pollution levels in Bangkok from now until the end of February, Mr Chadchart said.

For now, schools in the city should still open as normal, he added. 

Some cities in Thailand’s northern region and those near Bangkok are battling unhealthy air quality on Wednesday morning, official data showed. Bangkok and 23 other provinces are on the list of cities with high levels of PM2.5, according to the Ministry of Public Health. 

Health authorities across Thailand’s 77 provinces will closely monitor PM2.5 levels and will open emergency operation centres in any province where unhealthy readings persist for more than three days, according to Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent-secretary in the Health Ministry.

Patients with pollution-related diseases in Thai hospitals have more than doubled to nearly 213,000 this week, from about 96,000 last week, due to the worsening air quality, he said. BLOOMBERG

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