Bangkok again on alert over toxic smog
Bangkok, Feb 2 (EFE).- Thailand’s capital was facing high levels of air pollution Thursday for a second day running, breaching the United States’ “Unhealthy” quality index threshold and making it among the most polluted in the world, as predictions set this trend to continue into the weekend.
The level of smog in Bangkok is defined to increase the “likelihood of adverse effects and aggravation to the heart and lungs among the general public” as the index stood at 197 on the Air Quality Index metric, three points shy of a “Very Unhealthy” rating.
The scale classifies satisfactory quality to be below 50, according to the Air Visual website, which measures air pollution worldwide.
Bangkok ranked third in the world’s most polluted cities behind Lahore in India and Kuwait City.
Levels of PM2.5 levels (particles below 2.5 micrometers or less in diameter) rose to 108 micrograms per cubic meter (mcg/m3), a concentration 21.7 times higher than the World Health Organization’s annual air quality reference value and was predicted to rise even further in coming days.
PM2.5 particles are small enough to be directly absorbed into the bloodstream upon inhalation.
Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt called on government agencies to work from home Thursday and Friday, except for those that work with public attention, and encouraged the free distribution of masks with filters.
He also prohibited the circulation of vehicles with diesel engines with emissions higher than the stipulated norm on the roads and requested that the population refrain from carrying out open-air burning of either grass or waste, a common practice in the dry season in the country.
Chadchart said there is currently no need to close schools, adding that students must wear masks “at all times, inside and outside buildings” and prohibited all outdoor activities.
Air pollution is a recurring problem in Thailand during the dry season, which runs from October to April, due to a combination of factors including heavy traffic, construction, industrial activity and fires caused by the agricultural sector. EFE