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Bangkok schools closed over air pollution concerns

Bangkok closes 400 schools for the week as the city is smothered by toxic smog and ministers tell people to stay indoors

  • Thailand’s prime minister has ordered for the closure of 437 schools
  • It comes after officials said the toxic smog would continue until next Monday
  • Many commuters and pedestrians have begun wearing face masks
  • The Public Health Ministry said people should refrain from outdoor activities

More than 400 schools in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, have been shut for the rest of the week due to increasing concern over dangerously unhealthy air pollution.

The country’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered for the closure of 437 schools after officials said the toxic smog would continue until next Monday.

It comes as the Public Health Ministry said people should refrain from outdoor activities and exercise, and look instead for indoor venues. 

More than 400 schools in Thailand’s capital, Bangkok, have been shut for the rest of the week due to increasing concern over dangerously unhealthy air pollution. Pictured: A young boy wears a protective mask as he’s picked up from school in the city

Many commuters and pedestrians have begun wearing face masks to combat the buildup of particles in the atmosphere from still air and heavy traffic.

Police Gen. Asawin Kwanmuang, the city’s governor, also declared the area a ‘pollution control zone,’ allowing authorities to take legal measures to combat the threat. 

Violators of orders to curb pollution, which could include limits on diesel exhaust, outdoor burning and construction activities, could face up to three months in prison.

Bangkok's cityscape is covered in thick smog with air quality in the city currently hovering at unhealthy levels

Bangkok’s cityscape is covered in thick smog with air quality in the city currently hovering at unhealthy levels

The country’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered for the closure of 437 schools after officials said the toxic smog would continue until next Monday. Pictured: Students wear masks as they wait to be picked up after classes were cancelled

The country’s prime minister Prayuth Chan-ocha has ordered for the closure of 437 schools after officials said the toxic smog would continue until next Monday. Pictured: Students wear masks as they wait to be picked up after classes were cancelled

Residents celebrating next week’s Lunar New Year holiday were also urged to curb the use of incense and fireworks to help the effort.

Air quality in Bangkok is currently hovering at unhealthy levels as the amount of hazardous dust particles known as PM 2.5 exceed the safe level in 41 areas around the capital, according to the Department of Pollution Control. 

PM 2.5 is a mixture of liquid droplets and solid particles that can include dust, soot and smoke, one of the main measures of the Air Quality Index (AQI). 

Meanwhile, Asawin said: ‘We decided to eliminate the problem by closing down the schools. We’re afraid that it can be dangerous for the children.’ 

 Many commuters and pedestrians have begun wearing face masks to combat the buildup of particles in the atmosphere from still air and heavy traffic

 Many commuters and pedestrians have begun wearing face masks to combat the buildup of particles in the atmosphere from still air and heavy traffic

Wearing protective masks due to the high levels of city air pollution, parents pick up their children from school in Bangkok

Wearing protective masks due to the high levels of city air pollution, parents pick up their children from school in Bangkok

 Efforts to reduce the pollution level in Bangkok by hosing down roads and spraying water in the air have been criticised as ineffective

 Efforts to reduce the pollution level in Bangkok by hosing down roads and spraying water in the air have been criticised as ineffective

Technical colleges are included among the closed institutions but universities are still considering what to do.

Mongkolsak Lajina, the father of a five-year-old student, suggested that closing schools was a token gesture.

‘I don’t think it will help much. It helps that students do not have to commute to schools,’ he said. ‘But we need better measures to effectively deal with this problem.’

Aek Pongpairoj, a doctor living in Bangkok, added: ‘These measures will help only temporarily. 

Residents celebrating next week's Lunar New Year holiday were also urged to curb the use of incense and fireworks to help the effort

Residents celebrating next week’s Lunar New Year holiday were also urged to curb the use of incense and fireworks to help the effort

Police Gen. Asawin Kwanmuang, the city's governor, also declared the area a 'pollution control zone,' allowing authorities to take legal measures to combat the threat

Police Gen. Asawin Kwanmuang, the city’s governor, also declared the area a ‘pollution control zone,’ allowing authorities to take legal measures to combat the threat

‘If we want a long-lasting solution, all sectors must be involved, not just government agencies; for example, the private sector involving construction. There are so many construction sites and I can see that preventive measures aren’t enough.’

Pollution levels also rose elsewhere in Thailand, bringing a heavy haze to Chiang Mai and other northern areas. 

This was well ahead of the annual ‘smoky season’ that normally begins in late February, when farmers burn agricultural waste and dry weather allows airborne particles to accumulate.

Efforts to reduce the pollution level in Bangkok by hosing down roads and spraying water in the air have been criticised as ineffective. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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