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Mask On: PM2.5 Smog Returns to Bangkok

BANGKOK — Mask on, it’s not fog. The capital on Monday morning found itself ranked as the second most polluted city in the world, according to an independent monitoring service.

Bangkok was only behind Hanoi, Vietnam this morning as the most polluted city in the world, according to data from AirVisual. The air quality was indexed at 175 on Monday 10.12am, which is considered “unhealthy.”

The crowd-sourced air monitoring service obtained the average air quality index from more than 30 privately-operated stations across the capital. Thailand’s official data offered a much gentle figure, but it still found 33 areas to be blanketed with harmful amount of particulate matter, or PM 2.5.

According to the Pollution Control Department, areas found to have exceeding amount of PM 2.5 than the safety threshold of 50 micrograms per cubic metre are: Bang Khun Thian, Pathum Wan, Thonburi, Wang Thonglang, Din Daeng, Samphanthawong, Phayathai, Bang Rak, Sathon, Bang Kho Laem, Yannawa, Chatuchak, Khlong San, Bangkok Noi, Phasi Charoen, Khlong Toei, Bang Sue, Lak Si, Bang Khen, Bueng Kum, and Bang Phlat.

Air in some parts of the surrounding provinces including Nonthaburi, Pathum Thani, Samut Prakan, Samut Sakhon, and Nakhon Pathom are also found to be enshrouded in toxic dust.

The department’s director-general Pralong Damrongchai said the poor air quality is caused by winds and high humidity during the transition of seasons, which suppresses the particles lower near the surface.

He advised children, seniors, and those with respiratory diseases to stay indoors and wear N95-rated masks as a precautionary measure. The government also asked citizens to refrain from setting outdoor fire and use public transportation to mitigate the pollution.

Social media is also filled with anecdotal reports and complaints of the “airpocalypse” this morning, with hashtag #PM25 rose to the top trending in Thai Twitter.

“It comes back, what a great day,” user @keroroplew tweeted.

“I have seen it for 2-3 days already, now I understand why I have a sore throat and runny nose,” another user @aaky_w tweeted.

Satellite data showing the average distribution of dust across the country from Sept. 21 to 27. Image: GISTDA


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