Experts worry for public health due to deadly smog in Bangkok, Latest World News - The New Paper

Experts worry for public health due to deadly smog in Bangkok

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BANGKOK: The Thai capital has been engulfed by smog for days as experts warn of the threat to public health if the unhealthy air quality levels persist.

The authorities must take the air pollution problem in Bangkok seriously and strictly enforce mitigation measures to protect people's health, academics said. They also pointed out that the country would face billions of baht in additional health costs unless the severe air pollution blanketing the capital was promptly curbed.

The pollution remained at harmful levels for the third straight day on Sunday and the situation was likely to remain critical for at least another month due to weather patterns, said Dr Witsanu Attavanich, associate professor of economics at Kasetsart University.

He feared state agencies and the public were underestimating the dangers of air pollution, and proper prevention and mitigation measures were inadequate.

Residents awoke on Sunday to find Bangkok once again smothered by smog that reduced visibility to just 1km in areas. It was a deadly cloud of fine dust particles and other air pollutants, said a China-based air-pollution monitoring website.

The site reported that the PM2.5 air-quality index (AQI) in Bangkok reached a peak of 195, an unhealthy level, while some areas such as Bang Khen district were at hazardous levels, with PM2.5 AQI at 394 in the morning. The site forecast Bangkok would face harmful levels every morning for the rest of the week because there was little wind.

Environmental health expert Sonthi Kotchawat said PM2.5 was so harmful as the fine dust particles are small enough to enter the bloodstream.

Long exposure can cause respiratory diseases, including lung cancer, heart disease and stroke, he said.

Environment Department director Chatree Wattanakhajorn said his agency has issued a ban on outdoor burning, was monitoring pollution-control measures at all construction sites, and was constantly cleaning the roads. - THE NATION/ASIA NEWS NETWORK