Thailand Officials Encourage Locals To Work From Home As Bangkok Chokes On Haze

The Thai government advised people to wear face masks outdoors, and consider working from home after the country's air pollution reached an unhealthy level.

Cover image via New Straits Times & AFP/New Straits Times

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A thick haze blanketed Bangkok, Thailand, as the city's air pollution reached unhealthy levels on Wednesday, 1 February and Thursday, 2 February.

According to The Straits Times, the Thai capital's air was deemed "very unhealthy" based on IQAir's worldwide city pollution ranking, when its air quality index (AQI) reading recorded at 156 at around 6pm on Thursday.

AQI readings of above 100 are considered unhealthy, while those that cross 200 are regarded as very unhealthy.

The Thai Meteorological Department (TMD) forecasted that PM2.5 levels would spread across the country on Thursday and Friday, 3 February, as the fine-dust pollution accumulated in stagnant air.

PM2.5 particles are extremely hazardous to human lungs and has been linked to heart and lung diseases, as well as cancer.

According to Reuters, the PM2.5 levels in the capital was 14 times the level recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO), making it the sixth-worst city with air pollution in the world, at the time of the AQI reading.

A view of the Bangkok haze from 2020.

Image via Reuters

Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha has advised the residents of Thailand to wear face masks outdoors and avoid prolonged exposure to the hazardous air

Prayut has also urged government agencies and businesses to let staff work from home to reduce air pollution from traffic.

Thailand's government spokesman Anucha Burapachaisri said that those with chronic health problems or respiratory symptoms should consult a doctor before doing outdoor activities, reported The Straits Times.

"The Prime Minister is concerned about people's health, especially those in vulnerable groups, and advises them to wear sanitary or N95 masks when leaving the house, and to avoid prolonged outdoor activities," said the spokesman yesterday.

Bangkok's smothered skyline from 2019.

Image via New Straits Times

Bangkok governor Chadchart Sittipunt said that the unsafe levels of dust were due to stagnant air, agricultural burning, and forest fires

The locals have complained of poor visibility and trouble breathing.

"I feel my eyes burn. I can barely see when I have to ride my motorcycle against the wind," said Kanjanaporn Yampikul, a 51-year-old motorcycle taxi rider, to Reuters.

However, the TMD forecast that conditions would improve from Saturday, 4 February, as winds pick up and start dispersing the air pollution.

Did you know Johor was the first state in Malaysia to install an early warning system to monitor our air quality:

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