Ministry to roll out 'dust-free' rooms

Ministry to roll out 'dust-free' rooms

The Bangkok skyline is obscured by haze after a surge in PM2.5 fine dust pollution last month. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)
The Bangkok skyline is obscured by haze after a surge in PM2.5 fine dust pollution last month. (Photo: Nutthawat Wichieanbut)

The Ministry of Public Health says it plans to provide "dust-free" hospital rooms for at-risk patients in 30 provinces following a rise in the number of people affected by PM2.5.

The Public Health Ministry's permanent secretary, Dr Opas Karnkawinpong, said more than 10,000 patients were reported to have been affected by the fine particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns (PM2.5) over the past four months, with 1,407 needing emergency care.

Dr Opas said the ministry plans to introduce "dust-free" rooms in 30 high-risk provinces, including Chiang Mai, Chiang Rai, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Phitsanulok and the Bangkok Metropolitan Region.

The rooms will accommodate vulnerable patients, including the elderly, young children, pregnant women and people with chronic diseases such as asthma, allergies, and heart disease.

Dr Opas said the PM2.5 situation in the country worsened this week, with Tuesday's data on PM2.5 levels showing 44 provinces endured levels higher than 37.5μg/m3.

Aekvarunyoo Amrapala, Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) spokesman, said the recent increase of PM2.5 to an unhealthy level in 26 Bangkok areas is caused by outside factors, especially burning smoke from Cambodia.

Data shows burning activities in 49,983 locations in Thailand's neighbouring countries this year, a 93% increase from last year's 25,856 locations.

The top five areas with the highest levels of PM2.5 in Bangkok are Suan Thawiwanarom park and Sanam Luang 2 in Thawi Watthana District, Bangkok Noi railway police station in Bangkok Noi district, Bang Bon market in Bang Bon district, and Phetkasem 81 in Nong Khaem district.

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt meanwhile said farmers are among the people most blamed for the PM2.5 problem as they do a lot of stubble burning as they cannot afford machines that allow them to avoid burning activities. He also revealed a BMA initiative lending tractors and straw balers to farmers to reduce their burning activities and help generate more income from selling rice straw blocks.

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