Thailand: Tens of thousands hospitalized due to smog

Status: 03/09/2023 1:50 PM

For several days, smog covered large parts of Thailand. This affects the health of the population. Since the beginning of the week, nearly 200,000 people have been hospitalized due to the effects of air pollution.

Air pollution in some areas of Thailand has been severe for days. The effects are also reflected in the number of patients hospitalized. This week alone, about 200,000 people have already been admitted to clinics due to the health consequences of smog. The Thai Ministry of Health published the figures.

As reported by the Bangkok Post, quoting Grandpa Karnkawenpong, the state minister for public health, more smog-related patients have been admitted to hospitals since the beginning of the week than in the whole of the past week. There were more than 161,800 people.

Between January 1 and March 5, about 1.32 million cases were diagnosed nationwide in which air pollution led to health damage. The newspaper report stated that in more than 583,230 of these cases, respiratory diseases were found.

Provinces in the north of the country are particularly affected

Fifteen provinces in the north of the country are particularly affected by massive air pollution, including the city of Chiang Mai, which is popular with tourists. Air monitoring service IQAir on Thursday listed the city as having the third worst air pollution in the world.

In the affected provinces, high concentrations of PM2.5 particles, which are considered particularly hazardous to health, have been measured, as reported by the Bangkok Post. These are so small that they penetrate the human bloodstream and go deep into the lungs. Emergency medical services have been established in all areas.

People at risk should stay home

Also in Bangkok, the capital of Thailand, fine dust levels have exceeded the maximum values ‚Äč‚Äčrecommended by the World Health Organization for days. Therefore, the Ministry of Health called on children, pregnant women, the elderly, and people with respiratory or heart problems to stay in their homes or apartments if possible. Everyone leaving the house must wear a protective mask.

In the capital, which is home to about 11 million people, checkpoints have been set up to remove vehicles with particularly high exhaust emissions from the road. So-called dust-free zones have been created in daycare centers: these rooms are equipped with air purifiers. These air purifiers were sold in Bangkok for private use.

Authorities in the Thai capital had already taken action against high air pollution at the end of January and early February and asked professionals to work from home if possible, news agency AAFP reported. A spokesman for Bangkok Governor Chadchart Setippont announced similar steps should the situation continue to deteriorate.

Slash and burn is probably the main reason

According to the dpa news agency, the main cause of massive air pollution is slash-and-burn: farmers burn their fields at the end of the dry season to rid them of weeds, for example. Farmers in neighboring countries such as Cambodia, Laos, and Myanmar also use this method.

As in this rice field near Bangkok, fires are being lit in preparation for the next planting season.

Credit: IMAGO/ZUMA Wire

Therefore, between January and March, there are often high levels of particulate matter. In big cities like Bangkok, exhaust gases emitted from vehicles or industrial facilities also play a role.

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