Clear Bangkok’s air by working from home: health minister

Photo: EvanLovely via Wikimedia Commons
Photo: EvanLovely via Wikimedia Commons

Employers need to seriously consider letting workers telecommute as a way to help tackle Bangkok’s wretched smog, the top health official said yesterday.

A year after his suggestion was widely dismissed as “encouraging people to be lazy,” Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul said private sector employees should be able to work from home to curb vehicle emissions, which account for most of the unhealthy muck turning Bangkok’s skies yellow-brown.

Though it’s still another form of buck-passing rather than a serious regulatory effort, at least no more molasses-spewing drones were suggested.

Anutin said Tuesday that he’d like to re-propose the same course of action as it could be implemented gradually – companies could adopt the practice by allowing employees to work from home on select days.

Smoggie skies and high levels of hazardous micro-particulate air pollution returned with a vengeance with the New Year, hitting a level exceeding “unhealthy” every day since, according to pollution monitoring site AirVisual.

In another piecemeal suggestion to reduce emissions, the Pollution Control Committee on Wednesday said 10-wheelers and trailer trucks should be banned from the Kanchanapisek ring road alternating days for two months.

According to Varawut Silpa-archa, environmental minister, said vehicle emissions account for 72% of the particularly dangerous, ultrafine PM2.5 particle pollution in Bangkok alone. 

Varawut said he’s weighing more “hard-core remedies” if the pollution worsens, but said they were a long way down the road.

“It could be like South Korea going car-free in urban areas,” Varawut said. “But such measures can’t be suddenly implemented, because an emergency measure needs to be announced.”


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