Faced with the return of hazardous air pollution to Bangkok, the government yesterday blamed a high-pressure system and vehicle exhaust for putting the capital back among the world’s most-polluted cities.
At an emergency cabinet meeting called to discuss the smog crisis, the Pollution Control Department’s director-general identified weather and emissions as primary contributors to what monitors deem unhealthy air pollution.
Pralong Damrongchai said the high air pressure that’s descended on Thailand in the past week, as well as inefficient vehicle engines for conditions that have the government weighing the closure of schools. Rather than call for a more sustainable solution, he said closing schools was proven earlier this year to significantly decrease vehicle exhaust.
Unmentioned was the parallel issue of air pollution in the Deep South, where millions are choking on haze driven by forest fires burning in Indonesia.
Pralong, however, believes that Bangkok’s air quality may get better now through Thursday due to more rain. Nevertheless, people are advised to avoid prolonged outdoor exposure and exercise while continuing to monitor air quality.
When the first few months of 2019 saw heavy smog blanket the capital, the government also blamed vehicle exhaust. Then, officials vowed to crack down on old, gross-polluting diesel vehicles by setting up checkpoints to police their emissions, as well as enact a new emissions tax for motorcycles and banning the import of used cars.
Which leads to the conclusion that these measures were ineffective as vehicle exhaust remains one of the main sources.
This morning, Bangkok’s air quality scored an “unhealthy” 160 on the World Air Quality Project, a slight improvement over Monday’s 181.
This did not ease the public’s weariness with the problem, especially online.
A screenshot showing Bangkok topping the world’s worst-polluted cities at 6pm on Monday has been circulating on social media.
Others have been posting photos to illustrate just how dire the smog situation is becoming as many complain about runny noses and scratchy throats.
12 กันยายน vs.1 ตุลาคม
— Namphon (@Namphon2U) October 1, 2019
— ✞♡ . (@MYJ514) September 30, 2019
หายไปพักใหญ่ เช้านี้ฝุ่น PM 2.5 กลับมาปกคลุมกรุงเทพฯ อีกครั้งอย่างน่าวิตกจนสำนักข่าว Bloomberg ยังนำไปรายงาน คนกรุงเทพฯ ออกไปไหนมาไหน สวมหน้ากากกันฝุ่นไว้เป็นดีที่สุดครับ#ฝุ่นกรุงเทพ #ฝุ่นพิษ#ฝุ่นPM25 #PM25
— Wongthanong (@wongthanong) September 30, 2019
Note: An earlier image used in this story was misattributed to someone who reposted it to social media from another source.