Citizens in and around Bangkok were advised by authorities to stay indoors due to a spike in the city’s levels of air pollution.
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Bangkok’s Alarming Air Pollution Levels
The city of Bangkok in Thailand recently witnessed a massive air pollution spike, leading authorities to advise citizens in Bangkok and its neighboring provinces to stay indoors and avoid any strenuous outdoor activities.
The level of pollution in Bangkok’s air has reached a concentration of PM2.5 that is 14 times higher than the level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).
A thick haze blanketed the city of Bangkok on Tuesday and Wednesday, as locals complained of poor visibility and having trouble breathing.
In a conversation with Reuters, Kanjanaporn Yampikul, a 51-year-old motorcycle taxi driver, said, “I feel my eyes burn.” “I can barely see when I have to ride my motorcycle against the wind.”
It is unsure when people in and around Bangkok will be expected to avoid going outdoors. However, the current levels of air pollution are expected to continue until this Saturday, when some improvement is predicted to be seen in the air quality.
Efforts to Improve Air Quality
Level 3 Plan
The Pollution Control Department (PCD) of Thailand is actively making efforts to manage the air quality in Bangkok. The Director-General of the PCD, Pinsak Suraswadi, says the PCD has begun to implement its Level 3 plan.
The Level 3 plan states that the department must seek cooperation from employers in the country by allowing their employees and staff to work from home.
This reduces pollution from vehicle emissions. Moreover, the plan states that the department must request motorists use public transportation instead of private cars.
The plan also has regulations focused on construction sites, stating that construction activity that could result in releasing dust particles into the atmosphere must be reduced. Lastly, it bans the burning of waste in the open.
Burn Check Application
An application called Burn Check can be used by the provincial administrations in the country to control the burning of agricultural waste. The provincial administration of Chiang Mai is reportedly using the app, but the other provinces that are not are being instructed to use the application and take the control of farm waste burning more seriously.
Pinsak stated that the worsening air quality in the country can be mainly attributed to Bangkok, as well as the northern and northeastern regions of the country. He identified 1,200 air pollution hotspots in Thailand and said that the incoming polluted air from Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar is not helping.
Prior Warning & Prediction of Air Pollution Spike
The air pollution spike in Bangkok does not come as a surprise. The Bangkok Metropolitan Authority (BMA) previously warned the public about the city’s poor air quality. Pinsak said that the government had created and established a warning system for schools in Bangkok. If the air pollution levels exceed safe levels, the BMA can suspend classes for students.
The BMA hasn’t suspended classes for school students, as of now. However, they advised schools to ensure that students wear face masks. Pinsak added to this by suggesting that outdoor activities for schoolchildren be avoided. He further said that he wished for people to stop burning incense, paper, and candles during worship but could not force anyone as he would otherwise be infringing upon their religious freedom.
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