With Bangkok (bad) and much of northern Thailand (worse) shrouded in a blanket of smog, officials are urging people to keep their face masks on while celebrating Songkran outdoors. According to a Coconuts report, the Public Health Ministry is advocating for face masks to protect people from harmful microparticles – even going so far as to suggest that people should forget outdoor water play and stay indoors.
Deputy Minister Satit Pitutecha says that despite the pandemic abating, it’s not yet time to discard face masks, given the dangerous levels of air pollution across much of central and northern Thailand. However, the fact remains that most face masks cannot filter out PM2.5 microparticles, although the N95 surgical masks can reduce exposure.
Coconuts reports that yesterday, Bangkok’s air was measured as “unhealthy”, ranking at 138 on the global pollution index. And the Swiss air quality technology company, IQAir, predicts air quality in the capital will worsen over the coming days, peaking on Friday.
Meanwhile, Opas Karnkawinpong from Thailand’s Department of Disease Control, says pollution remains severe in the north of the country and has urged residents to remain indoors.
Yesterday, Chiang Mai’s air ranked at 219 on the international pollution index, a ranking considered unhealthy for everyone, regardless of health status. Exposure to this level of pollution can cause a number of health conditions, including nasal congestion, skin problems, and irritation.
In related news, Thailand’s Foreign Minister says the issue of the cross-border haze will be discussed at an ASEAN summit taking place in Indonesia next month.