Bangkok smog prompts Thai premier to warn people to wear masks

The prime minister issued th ewarning on Twitter

A motorist wear a face mask during a commute through Thailand's south province of Narathiwat amid the haze on September 20, 2019. Blazes to clear agricultural land in the archipelago are sending toxic haze across Southeast Asia, with Jakarta's efforts to fight them using water-bombing aircraft and thousands of security forces proving futile. / AFP / Madaree TOHLALA
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Smog descended on Thailand’s capital on Monday, leaving Bangkok with some of the worst air in the world and prompting the prime minister to warn people to wear masks.

Bangkok ranked in the top five globally for pollution in major cities at noon local time Monday, data from monitoring firm IQAir AirVisual showed. Some officials said the haze thickened because weather patterns had curbed wind.

Pollution spikes caused by industrial emissions, construction, crop burning and vehicle fumes have rattled Thailand in recent years. The smog was one of the top trending topics in the country on Twitter, underlining growing concern as officials struggle to control the problem.

Prime Minster Prayuth Chan-Ocha posted on Twitter to tell people to don masks if they plan to undertake activities outside, and asked factories and building sites to cooperate by curbing smoke and dust.

The Pollution Control Dept. said PM2.5 levels exceeded acceptable levels in many parts of the metropolis. PM2.5 refers to the tiny, toxic particles that can penetrate deep into the lungs and enter the bloodstream.

Southeast Asia in the past few weeks suffered from poor air quality caused by Indonesian forest fires, but hot-spots there have dwindled.

The episodes of smog in Thailand haven’t damaged tourism so far. However, worsening haze could pose a challenge for an industry that’s key to economic growth.