Over 400 schools in Thailand were forced to close on Wednesday to protect children from the haze of toxic smog that has covered the city for weeks.
Ultra-fine dust particles known as PM2.5 have reportedly caused Bangkok’s worst-ever air pollution levels, The Guardian reported. The toxic particles originate from traffic exhaust, construction works, burning crops and pollution from factories.
Based on the data from the World Air Quality Index project (AQICN), Bangkok’s Air Quality Index (AQI) is at around 160 (considered as “unhealthy”) as of Thursday afternoon. In comparison, Shanghai’s and Beijing’s AQI are at 74 and 80 (both “moderate”) respectively, while New Delhi is at 214 AQI (“very unhealthy”).
Local authorities, who have been struggling to manage the pollution crisis amid growing criticism from the public, decided to issue the order to shut down 437 schools for the rest of the week.
“We decided to eliminate the problem by closing down the schools,” Bangkok governor Aswin Kwanmuang was quoted as saying by Al Jazeera. “We’re afraid that it can be dangerous for the children.”
So far, efforts by the Thai government to minimize the effects of the pollution have failed to make an improvement. According to the BBC, authorities have tried seeding rain clouds, reducing traffic, and hosing down streets. The government has also asked the public not to burn incense or light fireworks when they celebrate the Lunar New Year holidays next week.
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