Bangkok’s air pollution cracks world’s worst top 10, threatening public health

Twitter: Photo/ @NNLioT
Twitter: Photo/ @NNLioT

Good morning Bangkokians. Today’s forecast: cloudy with a 100 percent chance of smog — again.

If the past two mornings in the capital have seemed next-level awful, your instincts are absolutely correct. Bangkok has cracked the world’s top 10 worst cities both days in a real-time list that monitors global air pollution levels.

Photo: Twitter/ @mukmania
Photo: Twitter/ @mukmania

Greenpeace Thailand took to social media yesterday with statistics from the World Air Quality Index (AQI) that showed Bangkok in ninth-place among the world’s most polluted.

This morning, we’d moved up to eighth.

 Faced with a mounting crisis, Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha this morning declared on his Facebook page that the the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is looking for solutions to solve the issue.

“The government is currently sweeping the streets in every district, spraying water to reduce dust and measuring the level of smoke as well as coordinating with the Department of Royal Rain and Agricultural Aviation to make artificial rain in especially risky areas,” he wrote.

“Citizens in dusty areas should wear protective masks when leaving the house.”

A netizen tweeted a photo of their face mask before (left) and after (right) bracing the Bangkok air. Photo: Twitter/ In my Fate

As increasingly concerned citizens start utilizing face masks during their commute, this morning the Pollution Control Department (PCD) calculated the capital’s airborne dust particle at PM2.5 (particulate matter with a diameter of less than 2.5 micrometers).  

Particles smaller than 2.5 micrometers can bypass the nose and throat, penetrating deep into the lungs and even enter the circulatory system, according to the Journal of Thoracic Disease.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggested that, in the long term, this can lead to heart attack and stroke.

The most recent AQI update categorizes Bangkok’s current situation as “unhealthy,” meaning “everyone may begin to experience health effects.”

Associate professor of economics at Kasetsart University Witsanu Attavanich pointed out that the situation is likely to remain critical for at least another month due to weather patterns, reported The Nation.

He said that efforts to protect the people’s health is becoming essential or else Thailand could face billions in financial costs to address additional health problems in the future.

Meanwhile, documenting Bangkok’s smog has become the issue on local social media, with the hashtags #dust, #bangkokdust and #PM25 comprising the top three trending topics on Twitter in Thailand today.

So stay out there, Coconauts and, especially if you spend a lot of time outdoors, consider investing in a face mask.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story relying on an image from the AQI website placed Bangkok’s pollution levels at a hazardous level of 403. 

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