Haze Pollution Forces School Closures in Bangkok

Bangkok pollution, photo by Bangkok Post.

Haze pollution is devastating Thailand’s capital city of Bangkok, and forced several schools to close yesterday.

Schools such as Chulalongkorn University Demonstration Secondary School and Jindabamrung School temporarily closed their doors due to the respiratory impact on students and announced reopening on Monday. The Education Ministry has established coordination centres to monitor the PM2.5 situation and schools can exercise discretion in their decisions to close if the dust levels are deemed unsafe.

The Public Health Ministry reported that over 370,000 patients have suffered from illnesses due to inhaling ultra-fine dust particles (PM2.5), Bangkok Post reported.

On Friday, 43 provinces including Bangkok and its suburbs remained blanketed in smog, with PM2.5 dust levels above the government’s safe limit of 50 micrograms per cubic meter (μg/m³), according to the Pollution Control Department (PCD).

The increase in haze pollution has led to an increase in health problems, with the Public Health Ministry reporting that over 376,000 people suffered from air pollution-related illnesses this week. Over 165,000 suffered from respiratory diseases, 80,248 from skin diseases, and 70,206 from eye inflammation.

Public health emergency operation centres have been established in 14 provinces affected by PM2.5, including Bangkok, Chiang Mai, and Nonthaburi, to deal with the issue more systematically. The US AQI value for Chiang Mai was at 164, with a PM2.5 level of 84.7μg/m³, briefly making it the 14th most polluted city in the world.

Air pollution reports can be accessed through Air4Thai.com and the Air4Thai and AirBKK apps. The PCD’s air and noise quality management division reports that fine dust levels persist in Bangkok and surrounding provinces due to accumulated dust and stagnant air. Central Bangkok and areas in the northern and southern Thon Buri regions are under close watch.

On Thursday, Bangkok was ranked the third worst city in the world for air pollution. Thailand is set to adjust its standard safety level of air pollution from June 1, 2023. The adjustment will see the safety level change from 50 microns to 37.5 microns as part of a move to help the Pollution Control Department manage air pollution more efficiently.

Environment News

Tara Abhasakun

A Thai-American dual citizen, Tara has reported news and spoken on a number of human rights and cultural news issues in Thailand. She holds a Bachelor’s Degree in history from The College of Wooster. She interned at Southeast Asia Globe, and has written for a number of outlets. Tara reports on a range of Thailand news issues.

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