Bangkok hit with another spell of PM2.5 smog

PM2.5 levels in Bangkok and surrounding provinces have reached a hazardous level for the third consecutive day on Friday (10 January), with the air quality measuring between 156 – 163 AQI (Air Quality Index), while the government has yet to issue any concrete long-term plan to tackle the issue.

AirVisual recorded 163 AQI on Friday afternoon, while the World Air Quality Index Project Team recorded 169 AQI, both unhealthy levels.

The Pollution Control Department’s website reported 204 AQI as of Friday (10 January), which is a potential health hazard. The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA)’s statistics, meanwhile, report lower PM2.5 levels than other monitoring units, ranging from 53 to 115 microgram per square metres.

Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha said in a tweet on Friday morning that cars which release black smoke will be put on a watchlist and would be subject to tougher inspection when they renew their license. He also recommended that the public wear face masks and avoid outdoor activities.

From Saturday to next Thursday, government health officials will also send out mobile health clinics to Bangkok’s Phasi Charoen District, one of the districts with the worst air quality according to BMA statistics, with its PM2.5 level at 127 microgram per square metres.

However, the government does not seem to have any rational long-term plan to tackle the smog crisis, which appears to have worsened since the beginning of 2019. Government solutions typically involve spraying water into the air in affected areas and near air quality monitor stations, a solution already criticized for being ineffective against PM2.5 smog, and pledging tougher punishments for vehicles or buildings that contribute to pollution.