Bangkok Warned of Worsening Air Pollution Until Wednesday

Residents in Bangkok have been warned about increasing levels of ultra-fine micropollutants in the air. The Pollution Control Department forecasts that this situation will worsen until Wednesday.

People living in Bangkok are advised to work from home until Wednesday to avoid severe air pollution.

Preeyaporn Suwanakate, the PCD director-general, explained that the high levels of PM2.5 pollutants are due to stagnant air in many parts of the city.

This is a result of low atmospheric pressure and changing wind patterns in the area, leading to pollutant build-up.

Winds from the South will soon shift to come from the East and Northeast. These will carry pollutants from other regions into Bangkok, according to Suwanakate.

Following this alert, the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) is increasing inspections of pollution sources in the city. The BMA has also directed all kindergartens and schools under its control to set up “dust-free” rooms.

State agencies and businesses are encouraged to permit their staff to telecommute, as city commuting significantly contributes to air pollution.

The government is offering discounts of up to 55% on engine oil and filter replacements as part of efforts to reduce pollution.

Satellite data from Thailand’s Geo-Informatics and Space Technology Development Agency (Gistda) showed several hotspots on January 9, 10, and 11.

Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin is informed about the situation and plans to discuss it with his Cambodian counterpart, Hun Manet, during a meeting in Thailand on February 7.

Mr. Srettha previously stated that Thailand and Cambodia would create a joint task force to tackle transboundary haze pollution.

Ms. Preeyaporn said the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment requested ASEAN’s secretary-general to push for actions in the Greater Mekong Subregion against forest fires and activities causing transboundary haze, like slash-and-burn farming.

Gistda, along with other Thai agencies and universities, is monitoring the PM2.5 levels in Bangkok.

As of 10am on Sunday, 33 districts in Bangkok reported dangerously high pollution levels. The PM2.5 concentration in these areas surpassed the PCD’s recommended safe exposure limit of 37.5 µg/m³.

These affected districts include Phra Khanong,

Don Muang, Lak Si, Bang Na, Prawet, Klong Toey, Suan Luang, and Sai Mai. PM2.5 levels in 34 other provinces, mainly in the North and Central Plains, also exceeded the safety standard.

In Chiang Mai, farmers are urged to plow their fields instead of burning rice straw, a common cause of haze pollution.

Farmers who do not have tractors are encouraged to register for assistance using the “Fire-D” app. Chiang Mai governor Nitirat Pongsitthithaworn has arranged for tractors and fuel subsidies to discourage burning.

District chiefs in the northern provinces have been tasked with persuading farmers to avoid burning their fields.

Although initially over 100,000 rai of farmland were expected to be affected by field burning, negotiations led many farmers to adopt alternative methods. As a result, over 70,000 rai of farmland will be spared from fires, the governor stated.