‘Very Unhealthy’: Bangkok pollution reaches 3-year high

Bangkok’s air pollution shot through the roof today to reach a “very unhealthy” level according to international standards, putting the Thai capital city among the world’s three most polluted cities. 

The capital this morning recorded a “very unhealthy” level of pollution on the international air quality index, mostly due to dangerous microparticulate pollution, or PM2.5, that was nearly 22 times what is considered acceptable by the WHO. As of 10am Thursday, Bangkok was the third most polluted city after India’s Mumbai and Pakistan’s Lahore. 

It was the worst pollution that Coconuts has recorded since Jan. 8, 2020.

#PM2.5 Pollution once again became a top hashtag on Thai Twitter this morning.

The Meteorological Department predicted Thailand will face more persistent dry weather and high PM 2.5 concentrations this weekend.

A number of schools in Bangkok have instructed students to wear face masks at all times during classes. Some schools also canceled outdoor activities for the time being. 

The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration last week issued an advisory that those who can work remotely should do so this week as pollution levels have hit levels deemed unhealthy multiple times since New Year’s Day.

While the first weeks of 2023 had continued a three-year trend of lower average pollution, it has now roughly 20% over 2022 levels, according to data collected by Coconuts.

Inhaling pollutants can irritate airways and cause shortness of breath, coughing, wheezing, asthmatic episodes, and chest pain. The Health Ministry reported that in the past three weeks there were roughly 90,000 people nationwide sickened with respiratory diseases, itchy skin, and eye irritation. The majority – 60% – were seniors, people with congenital diseases, and children. 

City Hall has opened five hospital “pollution clinics” to care for people suffering from respiratory diseases. They are located at Klang, Taksin, Charoenkrung Pracharak, Ratchaphiphat, and Sirindhorn hospitals.The persistent threat of pollution, which has become a major health concern for the past five years, is a major test facing Bangkok Gov. Chadchart Sittipunt, who was elected in a landslide eight months ago on the hope of solving some of the city’s intractable problems.


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