Authorities in Thailand have advised residents of Bangkok to work from home and wear respirator masks outdoors amid rising air pollution.
Bangkok Governor Chadchart Sittipunt said in a statement on Tuesday that people in the Thai capital should work from home if possible, or switch from personal vehicles to public transport options to commute.
The city’s air quality has remained at harmful levels this week, according to Bangkok Post, with authorities issuing a warning that dangerous dust particles known as PM2.5 may once again exceed safe levels.
In recent years, Bangkok and other cities in the region have struggled with poor air quality, which tends to worsen during the dry season from December to February.
“Authorities will seek to control activities causing dust particles such as outdoor burning, construction, and combustion from truck engines,” said Governor Chadchart.
Meanwhile, health officials across Thailand will monitor PM2.5 levels and will be opening emergency centers in any province that receives unhealthy air quality readings for more than three days, according to Opas Karnkawinpong, Thailand’s permanent secretary for public health.
According to Dr. Opas, the number of patients with disorders linked to pollution treated at local hospitals has more than doubled to about 213,000 this week from roughly 96,000 the previous week.
Air Pollution Wafts Across Laos
Meanwhile in Laos, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment issued a warning on Tuesday about dangerous levels of air pollution now being recorded across the country.
A recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) identifies four provinces in the north (Bokeo, Phongsaly, Oudomxay, and Luang Prabang) and Savannakhet in the south, as overall pollution hotspots in the country.
According to the findings, forest fires, agricultural fires, and slash-and-burn practices are significant contributors to air pollution.