Thai Premier Prayut urges people to wear masks as smog envelops Bangkok

A motorist wearing a face mask during a commute through Thailand's southern province of Narathiwat on Sept 20, 2019. Pollution spikes caused by industrial emissions, construction, crop burning and vehicle fumes have rattled Thailand in recent years.
A motorist wearing a face mask during a commute through Thailand's southern province of Narathiwat on Sept 20, 2019. Pollution spikes caused by industrial emissions, construction, crop burning and vehicle fumes have rattled Thailand in recent years.PHOTO: AFP

BANGKOK (BLOOMBERG) - Smog descended on Thailand's capital on Monday (Sept 30), leaving Bangkok with some of the worst air in the world and prompting the premier to warn people to wear masks.

Bangkok ranked third for pollution globally among major cities at about 9.45am local time (10.45am Singapore time) on Monday, data from monitoring firm IQAir AirVisual showed.

Some officials said the smog thickened because weather patterns had curbed wind.

Pollution spikes caused by industrial emissions, construction, crop burning and vehicle fumes have rattled Thailand in recent years. The smog was one of the top trending items in the country on Twitter, underlining growing concern as officials struggle to control the problem.

Prime Minster Prayut Chan-o-cha took to Twitter to tell people to don masks if they plan to undertake activities outside, and asked factories and building sites to cooperate by curbing smoke and dust.

South-east Asia in the past few weeks suffered from poor air quality caused by Indonesian forest fires, but hot spots there have dwindled.

The episodes of smog in Thailand haven't damaged tourism so far. However, worsening air quality could pose a challenge for an industry that is key to economic growth.