Air filters for schools as city haze worsens

Air filters for schools as city haze worsens

BMA mulls building purification towers

Air purifiers on display at the Education Ministry will be distributed to 37 state schools around Bangkok over the next two weeks. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul
Air purifiers on display at the Education Ministry will be distributed to 37 state schools around Bangkok over the next two weeks. Wichan Charoenkiatpakul

The Ministry of Education will deliver the first batch of air purifiers to 37 state schools in Bangkok and its vicinity within next two weeks, as part of the government's latest bid to combat the rising levels of ultra-fine PM2.5 pollutants blanketing the city.

"Luckily, most schools are now on a break, so [the haze] impact is quite limited. However, this situation is likely to return when the winter comes, so we need to prepare measures in advance," Kraiserm Tohtubtiang, secretary to the Education Minister, told the media on Tuesday at a press briefing to unveil the air purifier.

The ministry has ordered the Office of the Vocational Education Commission (Ovec) to produce 10,000 low-cost air purifiers and distribute them to schools in dust-vulnerable areas.

The air purifiers, which cost up to 2,000 baht per unit, come in three types -- a water-based unit, a unit with a PM2.5 filter inside, and air purifier for cars.

"Once the air purifiers have been delivered and tested, we will call on other government agencies to place orders with Ovec," he said.

In a related development, The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has announced plans to install an air purification tower in central Bangkok.

Chatree Watanakhajorn, director of the BMA's Environment Department, said on Tuesday the first tower will be placed near the Siam BTS station sometime this month.

If the giant air purifier proves effective, more will be installed across Bangkok, he said.

A private firm and Kasetsart University jointly proposed the tower, priced at 5.3 million baht.

If the tower, which is about four metres high and 1.5 metres wide and weighs about 200 kilogrammes, proves capable of reducing the haze pollution, the BMA will ask companies, department stores and organisers of large gatherings to also place towers on their premises.

The structure can purify air over an area of 1,000 square metres.

Should more towers be installed, they will be erected in 24 busy areas including Ratchaprasong intersection, Asok intersection, Central Department Store at Lat Phrao, Ari BTS station, Chatuchak, Chong Nonsi, Phrom Phong, Phloenchit and Victory Monument stations.

Mr Chatree added that the BMA is also looking to buy six water spraying trucks to reduce haze. City Hall is now waiting for funding to be approved by the city council.

If and when the move is given the green light, specifications for the trucks will be drafted.

At 8am on Tuesday, Bang Phlat district recorded the highest PM2.5 level in the city at 81 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), well above the 50 µg/m³ maximum safe level.

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