Take heed, health-conscious citizens and those of you out there with a heart for self-care! The Ministry of Public Health is sounding the alarm on a sneaky adversary that’s about to turn our blue skies a shade grimmer. We’re talking about the insidious ultra-fine dust known as PM2.5, which is set to make our air quality take a nosedive from next month through to March. So buckle up, because we’re in for a rather dusty ride.
Cue our knight in medical armor, Dr. Thongchai Keeratihuttayakorn, the Department of Disease Control chief, who’s got his eye on these minute menaces smaller than 2.5 microns. These particles are not just pesky dust specks; they’re health hijackers, especially for the vulnerable groups among us.
Let’s talk numbers, shall we? We’ve got about 279,000 individuals battling the lung-laboring chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, a staggering 20,000 gasping through acute asthma attacks, and 5,000 dear hearts grappling with cardiovascular conditions. These folks need to up their defense game against the worsening air pollution.
Dr. Thongchai’s advice? When PM2.5 rears its ugly head with unsafe levels, it’s better to shun the great outdoors, create a sanctuary inside your home with windows and doors firmly shut, or don an N95 mask—a veritable fortress for your face—if venturing out is non-negotiable.
Public Health Minister Dr. Cholnan Srikaew knows the score; this dust debacle is topping the charts of his ministry’s worries. The reason? This aerial assailant is no respecter of persons, hitting hard among those with lingering health conditions, the golden-agers, expectant mothers, and the younglings. And it’s no surprise since last year saw over 56 million people coughing and spluttering at the mercy of air pollution as the PM2.5 plague swept through more than 58 provinces.
Now let’s talk about the Hall of Fame for PM2.5—a list no city wants to top. Bangkok, you’ve got the dubious honor of being numero uno, with 78 days of air quality that had scientists and clean-air enthusiasts facepalming, as levels soared past the safe threshold of 37.5 microgrammes per cubic meter. Samut Sakhon and Samut Prakan, you’re not far behind with 66 and 62 days, respectively.
The ministry isn’t just sitting back and ringing the alarm; it’s rolling up its sleeves and getting down to business. Dr. Cholnan is gearing up emergency response teams in hospitals, especially in the smog-stricken North and Central regions, and there’s talk of SMS alerts to give us a heads-up when the haze hits hard.
Dr. Opas Kankawinpong, the ministry’s indefatigable permanent secretary, offers a ray of hope with the setup of 2,053 pristine clean rooms, poised to shelter over 33,000 people in state-run hospitals across 30 provinces. These havens are reserved for in-patients in dire need during the height of the pollution pandemonium.
Moreover, say hello to the Public Health Emergency Operations Centre, your new best friend in monitoring these PM2.5 shenanigans, plus a mighty stash of about 52 million masks for the mask-needy among us.
As per the Department of Pollution Control’s latest playlist of woes, the PM2.5 saga is serving up a side of eye irritation, respiratory riff-raff, and a symphony of skin, ear, neck, and nose nuisances since December first of the last year.
So there you have it, folks. The air may be getting heavier with these unseen adversaries, but forewarned is forearmed. With our health protectors in the public sector gearing up to bat away these bad air days, all is not lost. Let’s keep our spirits high and our air clean—or at least, try our darnedest to get there!