Bangkok smog hits dangerous levels, kids asked to stay indoors

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BANGKOK: Residents in Bangkok, one of the world's top tourist destinations, were yesterday warned that the city's air quality had hit dangerous levels, days after the country's pollution control agency appealed to residents to wear face masks.

Air pollution in the Thai capital has come under increasing scrutiny in recent weeks with residents complaining of smog and respiratory problems. Some schools were closed yesterday or kept children indoors.

Air Quality Index (AQI) formulas usually include up to six main pollutants including PM2.5, PM10, carbon monoxide, sulphur dioxide, nitrogen dioxide and ground level ozone.

The Pollution Control Department said that at noon yesterday, PM2.5 dust in the Bangkok metropolitan area was measured at 72-95 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

"Dust is likely to increase in all areas," it said.

That compares with a World Health Organisation guideline of an annual average of no more than 10 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

PM2.5 is a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles that can include dust, dirt, soot and smoke.

The AQI in central Bangkok area as measured by the Pollution Control Department yesterday at 1.30 pm showed a 135 AQI, or "unhealthy" level.

The Air4Thai mobile phone application, which shows the department's readings, does not factor in PM2.5 or fine particulate matter, which poses the greatest risk to human health.

"We have received information from my daughter's school that they are monitoring pollution levels and will be keeping the children indoors until it improves," said Ms Joanna Lorgrailers, 32, a mother of two who lives in Bangkok. - REUTERS