Emergency response to PM2.5 haze takes shape
text size

Emergency response to PM2.5 haze takes shape

The Ministry of Public Health has set up an Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) to deal with seasonal haze pollution, which is expected to become severe during the coming dry season.

Opas Karnkawinpong, permanent secretary of the ministry, said on Tuesday that Thailand remains plagued by the PM2.5 ultra-fine dust problem, so the ministry has to set up the EOC to combat it.

"Not every province is affected, but the upper North is expected to be hard hit by the problem," he said.

"Currently, Bangkok is only affected on some days as rainfall [during the current rainy season] helps ease the haze pollution," he said.

"Based on seasonal patterns of haze pollution, the problem will occur later in the year and continue until the middle of March."

It has also been forecast that the country will experience drier and hotter weather, which will increase the likelihood of forest fires, he said.

"The problem is expected to become severe," Dr Opas said, adding that the haze pollution in the South due to slash-and-burn practices in neighbouring countries has also eased due to the current seasonal rainfall.

He said the EOC will work with other relevant agencies to monitor the environment and the health impacts of PM2.5.

Dr Opas said the short-term effects include eye and skin irritation, a stinging nose, the buildup of phlegm, coughing, sneezing, and asthma attacks, while the long-term effects increase the risk of heart disease, vasculitis and cancer.

He added that high-risk groups, such as the elderly and young children, are advised to stay indoors in rooms with air purifiers.

However, he said the ministry is adequately equipped to deal with the haze pollution, particularly in the North.

He also stressed the need to curb the sources of PM2.5 that come from exhaust fumes and industrial factories by using more renewable energy.

Dr Opas said the Ministry of Public Health is already using solar cells as an alternative energy source.

He said it also plans to use electric vehicles as ambulances at all state-run hospitals and healthcare units under its supervision.

Do you like the content of this article?