Several areas in Bangkok recorded unhealthy air quality since this morning, January 15th, as PM2.5 dust particles have returned and amounted between 62 to 116 micrograms per cubic meter over the past 24 hours.
The Pollution Control Department announced a real-time air quality index on its website that air quality in all 11 areas of the capital is affecting health, with the highest PM2.5 level between 90 to 116 µg/m3 in Prawet District, Bang Khun Thian District, Bangna District, Chom Thong District, Nong Khaem District, Thung Khru District, Khlong Toei District, Bang Bon District, Thawi Watthana District, Don Mueng District, and Prakanong District.
Locals are advised to reduce outdoor activities, close their windows to avoid dirty outdoor air, and use protective gear.
According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) spokesperson, Pongsakorn Kwanmuang, more PM2.5 dust accumulation will occur until this Sunday, January 17th. This is due to hovering wind over upper Thailand weakening as well as cool air with morning fog.
Meanwhile, thick smog is also covering Pattaya City as the air pollution of PM2.5 dust particles has surged to an unhealthy level today, January 15th.
Due to the steady wind, the haze was seen covering several areas from a high angle, including Thappraya/Pratumnak Hill and beaches, causing limited scenery around the city. The white haze has also caused a slight burning sensation if being inhaled for a long time according to local residents.
The sight of Koh Lan and all the moored boats, as the island is currently closed to visitors, were barely seen from afar. Tourists and residents of Pattaya were concerned that the lack of view of the nearby islands may have been caused by the PM 2.5 that exceeds the standards and may be harmful to ones health.
According to IQAir mobile application, the PM 2.5 dust particles in Pattaya has exceeded the unhealthy level, with 165 micrograms per cubic meter throughout the day. Previously, it was reported that a chill wind had hovered in Pattaya for 2 days, but a less strong wind was reported since this morning.
Officials did not attribute an official source to the air pollution despite many complaints on social media. The Pattaya News notes that radar shared by various satellite companies shows fires and burning across Thailand which is common this time of year as farmers burn fields to make way for crops. The past several years, despite being technically illegal and continual promises by authorities to crack down on the burning, have not seen a reduction in air pollution.
In prior years multiple other factors had been blamed besides the field burning, including tourists and traffic in Pattaya. However, with borders closed to foreign tourists currently without going through a number of hoops and even domestic borders closed to Pattaya without a pass due to Covid-19, this is clearly not the cause of the smog. Pattaya residents including ex-pats have continued to ask for long term solutions.
One popular solution on Thai social media was instead of authorities playing continued hide and seek with rural farmers who usually burn their fields in the middle of the night to try to avoid law enforcement and then blame outside forces was instead to focus on factories accepting burned crops. Additionally, understanding the economic importance of farming especially in the current environment another popular idea was to provide farmers with the tools to harvest their crops without burning fields vs. fining and punishing them for methods many have reportedly used for generations.
The problem with air pollution is not going away anytime soon and although Covid-19 may be a thing of the past by this time next year (or, at least, hopefully much more under control) without a solid plan for air pollution this will continue to be a problem for many years to come and drive potential tourists away according to regular social media comments including from our own readers.
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