Drop in air quality due next week

Drop in air quality due next week

Bangkok is shrouded in haze on Thursday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)
Bangkok is shrouded in haze on Thursday. (Photo: Apichart Jinakul)

The Public Health Ministry warns of a drop in air quality in Bangkok next week and urges people -- especially vulnerable groups -- to step up their protection against harmful ultra-fine dust particles.

Dr Ekachai Piansriwatchara, deputy director-general of the Department of Health, said on Friday that the level of PM2.5 dust pollutants is expected to increase on Saturday and again on Tuesday and Wednesday due to weak winds.

People are advised to monitor air quality, and if dust pollution levels exceed 75 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), this will have impacts on health, he said.

The "safe" level of PM 2.5 dust in Thailand is no more than 50 microgrammes per cu/m.

Dr Ekachai said the ministry's concern was also triggered by a spike in the number of patients suffering from respiratory illnesses and skin and eye irritations in the first three weeks of this month, compared with December.

However, severe symptoms such as chest discomfort, difficulty breathing, and tiredness were rarely reported, he added.

Pinsak Suraswadi, chief of the Pollution Control Department (PCD), confirmed the air quality in central Bangkok, northern and southern Thon Buri is forecast to deteriorate during Feb 1-3.

He said people should avoid keeping their car engines running and burning crop residues and that people should wear face masks if dust pollution levels exceed the safe threshold.

According to the PCD, levels of PM2.5 ultra-fine dust particles in Bangkok and surrounding provinces were high on Friday in 59 areas.

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said more than 30 companies had answered City Hall's call to allow their employees to work from home on Thursday and Friday to limit their exposure to pollutants.

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