Air quality bad in many areas of Thailand

THAILAND- Air quality has dropped to a level where it could affect the health of people living in many parts of Thailand, including Bangkok.

The Pollution Control Department (PCD) has advised people to stay indoors if smog is visible. Or if they really need to go out, they should wear face masks.

PCD director general Wichien Jung-rungruang revealed yesterday that the amount of particulate matter of up to 10 micrometres in size (PM10) soared to 244 micrograms per cubic metre of air near highways in Samut Sakhon.

"It's way above safe levels," he said. The PM10 amount should be less than 120 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

There was also bad pollution in Saraburi's Chalerm Phra Kiat district - 200 micrograms of PM10 per cubic metre of air. The PM10 amount also reached 182 micrograms in Nonthaburi's Muang district and 176 micrograms in Pathum Wan in Bangkok. In Khon Kaen's Muang district, the PM10 amount reached 146 micrograms. In Ayutthaya's Muang district, 143 micrograms of PM10 particles were recorded.

"Ozone concentration is also higher than safe levels in many areas," Wichien disclosed. The safe "limit" for ozone is no more than 100 parts per billion (PPB).

"But it's 119 PPB in Bangkok's Bang Na district and 112 PPB in Phya Thai district," Wichien said. He also pointed out that smog was now visible over Bangkok and several other provinces.

Songkran Agsorn, deputy director-general of the Meteorological Depart-ment, said without strong wind over recent weeks, dust had gathered in Bangkok and the air quality had dropped.

"This situation will likely drag into the middle of January," he said. But he was more concerned about smog in the North. This problem is usually caused by locals lighting fires to clear land. But it occurs both in northern Thailand and across the border in neighbouring countries.