Pollution levels rise in Bangkok

BANGKOK, 31 January 2019: Thailand’s Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha has instructed government agencies to develop short and long-term plans to tackle chronic air pollution in Bangkok.

Government spokesperson, Puttipong Punnakanta, said at the close of the weekly Cabinet meeting, Tuesday, that the prime minister had ordered the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment and the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration to mitigate the impact of air pollution in Bangkok caused by an excess of particulate matter smaller than 2.5 microns per cubic meter in diameter (PM2.5).

Government agencies have been assigned to educate the Thai public about the causes of air pollution and how to safeguard themselves against PM2.5, while discouraging all burning activities during Chinese New Year festivities even the burning of incense sticks and joss papers.

According to the National News Bureau of Thailand, Gen Prayut emphasised that solving air pollution in an effective and sustainable manner requires short, medium, and long-term strategies as well as cooperation from all sectors, adding that the government is looking into the possibility of adopting stiffer air pollution control laws practiced by other nations while promising to adapt them to Thailand’s conditions.

Meanwhile a Nation Newspaper quoted Bangkok Governor Aswin Kwanmuang on Wednesday declaring 26 areas of the city to be pollution control zones to pave the way for more drastic measures to tackle the crisis.

The Pollution Control Department on Wednesday reported unsafe levels of PM2.5 – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – in 39 locations in and around the city, of which 23 were along main roads.

The department said PM2.5 levels would remain high until 4 February.

Bangkok Metropolitan Administration confirmed that 26 districts with 76 to 100 micrograms of PM2.5 and some with 51 to 75 micrograms would be designated as pollution control zones. They included popular tourist districts such as Pathumwan, Bang Rak, Yannawa (Chinatown) and Chatuchak.