High smog levels in Bangkok are forcing more than 400 schools to close today and tomorrow in an attempt to protect children from harmful effects. The education department says it will review the situation over the weekend.
The Thai capital city is experiencing some of its worst-ever ongoing air pollution levels which are exacerbated by ultra-fine dust particles known as PM2.5.
Traffic exhaust, urning crops, pollution from factories and construction works are being blamed for the haze. Authorities’ efforts to clear the air have so far failed and some of their ideas to mitigate the smog have been downright laughable.
Today 50 drones will buzz overhead the city of 10 million people spraying a mixture of water and molasses (gooey, sugary syrup) to try and grab a few pollution particles as it falls to the ground (creating another mess on everything below, including people). Then there is the sight of high-rise buildings around the city spraying water from their rooftops, allegedly on the direct instructions of the Thai PM. Yesterday an instruction also came from the public health department to limit the use of josh sticks and incense during the Chinese New Year festival celebrations next week.
Meanwhile, the real culprits – old buses and trucks, heavy traffic and the smoke from regional sugar cane and agricultural burn offs – continue to contribute to the growing problem. At this stage, no measures to reign in the biggest contributors to the city’s PM2.5 problem have been addressed.
The government has tried seeding rain clouds, reducing traffic, and hosing down streets, with little or no impact.
But as bad as Bangkok’s pollution levels may be (at 156 level this morning), that still doesn’t match New Delhi in India, which is currently hovering around 390, a “hazardous” level of pollution.