Recently, there’s been a palpable change in the air throughout Bangkok and its surrounding provinces. The culprit? Fine dust pollution, more technically known as PM2.5 particles. In fact, the Ministry of Public Health has reported intermittent spikes in the levels of this ultra-fine dust, ranging from moderate to unhealthy readings in various regions.
The concern is especially high for individuals suffering from chronic conditions. The advice from health experts is clear: confirm the air quality before venturing outdoors or indulging in any open-air recreations. These tiny airborne particles are not to be taken lightly.
Fine dust pollution isn’t a new problem, it’s a perennial issue that often grips the land during the chilling season. The blame mostly falls upon crop burning practices that occur throughout these cooler months. However, a significant segment can also be attributed to one of the anthropogenic factors – vehicle emissions. No less harmful, these emissions continue to add to the problem.
Dr. Opas Karnkawinpong, the permanent secretary for public health, confirms that the Ministry of Public Health conducts regular monitoring of PM2.5 readings, poised to issue any necessary health warnings. Indeed, a grim yet crucial job in this ongoing dust crisis, but it’s the need of the hour.
In fact, the air quality watchdog, the Pollution Control Department, suggests that certain regions, especially the Northeastern provinces such as Nakhon Phanom, Mukdahan, Yasothon, Nong khai, and Ubon Ratchathani, are bearing the brunt of the situation. Here, the PM2.5 levels are lingering either at moderate or unhealthy levels.
The capital city, Bangkok, hasn’t escaped unscathed either. Several areas, including Kanchanaphisek Road in Bang Khun Thian district, Din Daeng Road in Din Daeng, Khlong Kum area in Bueng Kum, Charan Sanitwong Road in Bang Phlat, Thung Wat Don area in Sathon, and Charoen Nakhon Road in Khlong San district, have reported unhealthy readings.
Dr. Opas suggests using Air4Thai mobile app or visiting Pollution Control Department’s Air4Thai website to stay updated with PM2.5 levels before leaving the homes or embarking on any outdoor activities. The air quality level can be gauged from https://pm25gistda.or.th as well. Here’s a brief guide:
- Blue (very good): Breathing is a breeze.
- Green (good): Clean and clear air.
- Yellow (unhealthy): If you’ve respiratory issues, best to avoid outdoor exercises. Kids and the elderly should cut short their outdoor time.
- Orange (very unhealthy): Respiratory patients should steer clear of outside, and outdoor time should be restricted for children and elders.
- Red (hazardous): Fresh air is a distant dream. Time to avoid any outside exercises and better stay indoors if you’re having any respiratory issues.
The current scenario sheds light on the importance of keeping tabs on the air quality index, especially before planning outdoor activities or leaving home. We can’t control the winds of change, but we can certainly lead a healthier lifestyle with timely information and proactive actions.