Forty-three provinces, including Bangkok and its suburbs, remain blanketed in smog, with PM2.5 dust levels over the safe limit of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre (ug/m3) on Friday morning, the Pollution Control Department reported.
The 43 provinces were Bangkok, Pathum Thani, Nonthaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Samut Sakhon, Samut Prakan, Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Nan, Mae Hong Son, Phayao, Lampang, Phrae, Lamphun, Uttaradit, Sukhothai, Tak, Phitsanulok, Kamphaeng Phet, Phichit, Phetchabun, Nakhon Sawan, Uthai Thani, Sing Buri, Lop Buri, Saraburi, Suphan Buri, Ayutthaya, Ratchaburi, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi, Prachuap Khiri Khan, Sa Kaeo, Chachoengsao, Chon Buri, Bueng Kan, Loei, Udon Thani, Nakhon Phanom, Nong Bua Lam Phu, Chaiyaphum, Nakhon Ratchasima and Buri Ram.
As of 7am, PM2.5 levels ranged between 34-154ug/m3 in most areas in the North, 29-96ug/m3 in most areas in the Northeast, 48-117ug/m3 in most areas in the Central Plains and the West, 32-79ug/m3 in four areas in the East, and 10-25ug/m3 in the South.
In Bangkok and surrounding areas, PM2.5 dust levels exceeded in most areas, ranging from 54-119ug/m3.
The PCD’s air and noise quality management division forecast that fine dust levels will remain in Bangkok and surrounding provinces on Friday due to accumulated dust and stagnant air. Central Bangkok and northern and southern Thon Buri areas were under close watch.
Air Quality Index Visual Map on Friday. (Photo: World Air Quality Index)
In the North, areas under close watch were upper and lower areas in 17 provinces, particularly on Friday.
People were advised to reduce outdoor activities and use protective gears as necessary.
"We have to intensify (efforts to tackle pollution) by encouraging people to work from home. For schools...they might have to avoid outdoor activities in order to prevent impacts on children's health," Pollution Control Department director-general said Pinsak Suraswadi in a news conference on Thursday.
Residents complained of poor visibility and having trouble breathing.
"I feel my eyes burn. I can barely see when I have to ride a motorcycle against the wind," said Kanjanaporn Yampikul, a 51-year-old motorcycle taxi rider.
Air pollution report can be obtained on websites Air4Thai.com as well as on Air4Thai and AirBKK apps.
The World Health Organization (WHO) recommends that average annual readings of PM2.5 should be no more than 5ug/m3 after changing its guidelines last year, saying that even low concentrations cause significant health risks. The level in Bangkok and the surrounding areas is currently 70.5ug/m3.
Every year, exposure to outdoor air pollution is estimated to cause 4.2 million premature deaths, according to the WHO.