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Air pollution illnesses to be studied


BANGKOK OFFICIALS ADMIT THAT PM2.5 PROBLEM CAUGHT THEM UNAWARES AS HAZARDOUS POLLUTION IN CAPITAL BEGINS TO EBB

A MONITORING system for air pollution-related sicknesses will be set up in the Bangkok area after residents suffered poor air quality conditions, including hazardous levels of particles 2.5 microns (PM2.5) or less, during recent weeks.
The Department of Disease Control (DDC) yesterday announced a plan to work with the Pollution Control Department (PCD) and Health Department of the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) to monitor air pollution, especially PM2.5 levels, in Bangkok. The effort will also focus on health problems in the capital in order to understand and tackle the air pollution problem in the future.
The DDC’s Bureau of Occupational and Environmental Diseases director Dr Chantana Padungtod said there were still no reports of increased sickness from air pollution amid the recent surge in PM2.5 levels, which has affected Bangkok for an extended period of time, because it would take 12 to 72 hours for people’s bodies to react to inhaled air pollution.
“We have contacted hospitals in Bangkok and the BMA’s Health Department to monitor diseases from exposure to air pollution and to take care of sick people,” Chantana said.
“In the meantime, we also advise people who have respiratory diseases, heart disease, heavy smokers, the elderly and children to avoid outdoor activities during this period, because these groups of people are sensitive to air pollution and can get sick from bad air quality easily.”

Air pollution illnesses to be studied
She admitted that the harmful levels of PM2.5 in Bangkok were a new problem for authorities, so there were no measures to monitor and warn people about related health threats.
She added that the DDC would work with the PCD and BMA to gather information about PM2.5 levels and air pollution in Bangkok year round, which would be compared with records about air pollution-related diseases to understand the nature of the problem. 
“There is no data collection on air pollution and sickness relating to this environmental problem before in Bangkok, but our new health monitoring system will be comparable to the health monitoring system in Northern provinces during the hazy season,” Chantana said.
Meanwhile, PCD Air Quality and Noise Management Division director Thalearngsak Petchsuwan said the worst air pollution in the capital had already passed, as the rain on Wednesday had washed dust particles from the air and caused PM2.5 levels yesterday to drop below safe averages, while hotter weather would bring winds carrying pollution away from the city.
According to the PCD, PM2.5 daily average levels in Phaya Thai district had fallen from 86.17 micrograms per cubic metre of air on Wednesday to 14.06mg, while the country’s safe standard was at 50mg.
“This phenomenon occurs every year during the change of seasons, as calm wind conditions trap air pollution within the city and it accumulates over time until it reaches dangerous levels,” Thalearngsak said.
“We would like to encourage people to drive their cars less and use public transport instead, as the main source of air pollution in Bangkok is the heavy traffic.”

Published : January 25, 2018

By : PRATCH RUJIVANAROM THE NATION