Imagine waking up in the vibrant city of Bangkok, where the buzz of construction signals the birth of towering high-rises and the air is filled with the promise of progress. In the heart of Bang Phlat district, amidst the cacophony of development, a slender device stands sentinel. Its mission? To keep a vigilant watch over the invisible menace lurking in the air – the PM2.5 particles. This hero device, installed at a construction site of a high-rise building, serves as the city’s guardian against air pollution. (Photo credit: Pattarapong Chatpattarasill)
Tuesday morning in Bangkok unfurled a tapestry of concern as the levels of PM2.5, the microscopic villains of air quality, crept stealthily beyond the realm of safety. The Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda), with its orbiting sentinels and the Check Foon (dust check) air quality app, unveiled a daunting picture: 49 districts in the capital had embarked on an unwitting adventure beyond the safe threshold of 37.5 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³).
The tale took a dramatic turn in 10 districts, where the dust levels soared into the realm marked by a serious effect on health, breaching the 100 µg/m³ mark. Bangkok Yai stood at the pinnacle of this unwanted summit, recording a staggering 107.5. Close on its heels, nine other districts – Bang Kholaem, Thung Kru, Thon Buri, Bang Na, Yannawa, Klong San, Bang Khunthian, Rat Burana, and Phra Khanong – found themselves ensnared in ranges between 105 and 107.1.
Yet, amidst this murky haze, Wang Thonglang emerged as a beacon of slightly lighter gloom, with its dust level donning the orange-coded cloak at a relatively healthier 70.3. Beyond the confines of Bangkok, the quest to find the highest level of dust led to the province of Samut Sakhon, boasting a dubious victory at 101.6.
The saga continued as dust levels, forming a descending staircase of concern, were reported across a myriad of provinces. From the lower steps starting at 95.6 µg/m³ in Samut Prakan to the higher echelons reaching 75.4 µg/m³ in Chachoengsao, the grasp of PM2.5 was widespread, spanning Pathum Thani, Ratchaburi, Nonthaburi, Ayutthaya, Samut Songkhram, Phetchaburi, Nakhon Pathom, Saraburi, to Suphan Buri.
In an intriguing twist, the Thai Meteorological Department unveiled the underlying plot – a saga of accumulating fine dust in Bangkok and its neighboring provinces, with weak wind speed playing the role of accomplice. The culprits, it revealed, were the hotspots of burning activities, including forest fires, detected with alarming frequency in neighboring lands. The most prolific of these fire starters were found in Cambodia, adding fuel to the PM2.5 crisis.
In the face of this unfolding drama, the department issued a clarion call to the citizens, urging the armament of facemasks in public areas as a shield against the respiratory onslaught of PM2.5. For those seeking to navigate this haze, the beacon of hope shines through the Check Foon app, offering updates and guiding the populace through this murky adventure.