Nationwide air quality readings have been satisfactory during these first days of the year, with little accumulation of airborne particulate matter. The implementation of the Work From Home model seems to be a decisive factor in trimming the number of vehicles on the streets, which has contributed to improving the air quality. Nonetheless, the level of PM2.5 airborne dust in Greater Bangkok will rise after mid-January.
Levels of PM2.5 – airborne particulate matter less than 2.5 microns in size – stood either in the ‘Excellent’ or ‘Satisfactory’ categories (blue and green color codes) in Bangkok this morning (4 Jan). ‘Moderate’ (yellow color code) readings were present in just two areas – Khlong Sam Wa and Nong Khaem. PM2.5 readings in the two areas were 40-41 micrograms per cubic meter.
Meanwhile, people who lived or worked near roads in Bangkok’s Phaya Thai district said they noticed the shift into the dust season. Although dust levels have yet to peak, the locals said they are taking many precautions to prevent health effects on their bodies.
Pollution Control Department Director-General Athapol Charoenshunsa said there is little air movement during this time and dust can easily accumulate. However, the 100% Work from Home order for public sector employees until January 14 has reduced the number of cars on roads and thus dampened the amount of vehicle exhaust, which is a source of PM2.5 dust. Although the levels of airborne dust are satisfactory this week, they are expected to deteriorate continually from the middle of the month until the end of February. Mr. Athapol attributed the cheerless prediction to a longer-than-usual lack of air motion and dust from burning in neighboring countries. The air quality in Bangkok is expected to improve only in March.
According to the director-general, air quality readings in the North are expected to exceed various margins from February onward, when smoke haze is also expected. He said a letter has been sent to neighboring countries where hotspots have been increasing to ask for their cooperation in reducing said hotspots and other activities that would contribute to transboundary haze.