Bangkok issues air pollution warning

The skyline is seen through the polluted air in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 8, 2018.
The skyline is seen through the polluted air in Bangkok, Thailand, on Feb 8, 2018. PHOTO: REUTERS

BANGKOK • Residents of Bangkok, one of the world’s top tourist destinations, were warned yesterday that the city’s air quality had hit dangerous levels, just days after the pollution control agency appealed to residents to wear face masks.

Air pollution in the Thai capital has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks, with residents complaining of smog and respiratory problems. Some schools were closed yesterday while others kept children indoors.

Air Quality Index (AQI) formulas usually include up to six main pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ground-level ozone.

The Pollution Control Department reported PM2.5 dust in the Bangkok Metropolitan area at midday yesterday was measured at 72-95 micrograms per cubic metre, with the likelihood it would increase. That compares with a World Health Organisation guideline of an annual average of no more than 10 micrograms. PM2.5 is a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles such as dust, dirt, soot and smoke. “We’ve warned at-risk groups including sick people... the elderly and children.

We’ve warned that they must not conduct activities outdoors,” Mrs Suwanna Tiansuwan, deputy director-general of the Pollution Control Department, said.

She said the lack of wind in recent days had allowed pollution to accumulate in the air. The department reported the AQI in the central Bangkok area had reached an unhealthy level of 135 by early afternoon yesterday.

...the lack of wind in recent days had allowed pollution to accumulate in the air. The department reported the AQI in the central Bangkok area had reached an unhealthy level of 135 by early afternoon yesterday.

The Air4Thai mobile phone application, which shows Pollution Control Department readings, does not factor in PM2.5 or fine particulate matter that poses the greatest risk to human health. Data from the American AirVisual smartphone application showed a 154 AQI reading for Bangkok.

Some international schools in the city have installed their own air pollution measuring devices, and are in touch with other international schools in cities with high air pollution levels to discuss ways to limit children’s exposure. Mrs Suwanna said her department was preparing to provide PM2.5 or fine particulate matter measurements on its mobile app.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on February 09, 2018, with the headline 'Bangkok issues air pollution warning'. Print Edition | Subscribe