Government to launch clean air strategy

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BANGKOK is facing an air pollution crisis that has choked the capital since late a year ago, with academicians warning of serious impact on public health and a threat to the economy.

Air Visual, an independent online air quality index (AQI) monitor, pegged Bangkok at "unhealthy" levels measuring 156 AQI yesterday - though the number has often been higher in the past two months.

An activist claims the smog now blanketing greater Bangkok comes from farmers burning sugarcane fields to make harvesting easier. Public discontent has surfaced on Thai social media, with pollution-related hashtags trending.

Records made available by a local Pollution Control Board (PCB) show that for many consecutive days the amount of PM2.5 - airborne dust particles 2.5 microns in diameter or less - far exceed the safe level of 50 micrograms per cubic meter of air during the daytime.

Mr Gove will say: "Air pollution continues to shorten lives, harm our children and reduce quality of life.' He added that while it may conjure 'images of traffic jams and exhaust fumes, transport is only one part of the story". "We are not in the range of 120-150 where all people have to wear masks all the time when they are out".

"Thousands of lives are lost every year in the United Kingdom because the air we breathe contains unsafe particles", said Simon Gillespie, Chief Executive at the British Heart Foundation, adding the strategy need matching with legislative action.

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The Thaiger publishes national air quality readings daily.

In recent weeks, municipal workers have sprayed water along the roads and into the air in Bangkok to help clear the smog, while authorities have urged people to stay indoors.

Despite the poor visibility and hazardous level of air quality, many Bangkokians were seen going about their daily activities as normal, many of them without facemasks.

Officials have warned that the pollution cloud - a deadly mix of fine dust particles and other air pollutants - has become a serious threat to health. "Action to protect people's health must be a requirement, not a 'nice to have"'.

Thailand is set to deploy cloud-seeding planes, South Korea is stopping old cars from being driven on the road and Britain wants to phase out diesel-only trains as nations fight back to reduce air pollution shrouding their cities at the start of the new year.

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