Hundreds of schools in Bangkok are being forced to shut down through Friday because of exorbitantly high levels of air pollution in Thailand’s capital, according to the Guardian.
Officials believe that extended exposure to the smog is too dangerous to take chances and may soon issue a warning not to exercise in parks until the air clears.
“The situation will be bad until Feb. 3 to 4, so I decided to close schools,” Aswin Kwanmuang, the governor or Bangkok, said.
BREAKING: Governor of Bangkok has just announced that all 437 schools under his jurisdiction will close immediately until 1st February due to air pollution— Richard Barrow in Thailand 🇹🇭 🇬🇧 (@RichardBarrow) January 30, 2019
♦️ ผู้ว่าฯกทม. สั่งปิด โรงเรียน ตั้งแต่เที่ยงวันนี้ แก้ผลกระทบฝุ่นละออง https://t.co/mnlnmIrZDd#BangkokSmog#ฝุ่นกรุงเทพ. pic.twitter.com/PMVCjx86lm
The government is attempting to disperse toxic air by goading clouds to rain, deploying drones to spray areas with water and non-hazardous chemicals, and asking people not to burn incense and other products during the Chinese New Year.
Although their efficacy is disputed, face masks have sold out in parts of the city as people try to cope with the smog.
The current spike in pollution is being attributed to vehicles, factories, construction, and burning of leftover crops, according to the Guardian.
The independent air quality monitor Air Visual reports that Bangkok has an air quality index (AQI) of 157, which is considered unhealthy, and will improve to moderate by Feb. 6. Although Bangkok’s pollution has reached dangerous levels, it isn’t among the 10 worst cities for air pollution, according to Air Visual, although it has far worse air quality than Beijing, which has a history of being covered in smog.
New Delhi, for example, has an AQI of 457 and Dhaka is at 244. Beijing, on the other hand, has a score of 23.
The city with the cleanest air on Air Visual’s list is Amsterdam, which has an AQI of 7.
Air pollution is responsible for 7 million premature deaths every year. Air pollution increases a person’s chance of respiratory and cardiovascular diseases, destroys a person’s intelligence, and makes someone four times more likely to suffer from depression.
To prevent air quality from deteriorating further, Bangkok would have to enact restrictions on the types of cars allowed on roads, limits on the factory emissions, and waste management regulations. Otherwise, the city will likely go through cycles of severe air pollution that endanger the lives of its citizens.