It’s time to come clean…

… about the air pollution in Bangkok. It’s pretty bad.

This is the view from our apartment yesterday. The problem is being caused by a stagnant weather system which is sitting over much of SE Asia and means that the dust and exhaust molecules we produce on a daily basis are being trapped in the atmosphere and not being blown away.

And this is the view this morning looking towards the river.

It isn’t early morning haze which burns off when the sun comes up. It’s SMOG. It’s pollution at its worst.

Last year we had a week of pollution with only a couple of really bad days but this year it had gone on for several weeks.

Every day at multiple points throughout the day the air quality is measured and an AQI (air quality index) score is announced. This is based on the density of particles in the atmosphere. 20 is clean. The scales have been up and down ranging from 55 to 179 within the same day. Yesterday it peaked at 200. But according to one source I read the Thai figures for what is safe are twice as high as that recommend by the WHO.

Two weeks ago the government suspended all construction (the work on our underground car park was halted and the workforce could be seen from our balcony having a big meeting)

They also sent planes up to dump vast quantities of water in the atmosphere. This coalesced and fell as a kind of toxic rain. I had no idea what my Thai colleagues were talking about when they said it was ‘fake rain’. But when I realised that they were not making it all up we were advised to try not to get wet! That was quite scary.

It worked though and for a while the AQI lowered. Still people have been wearing air filter masks all day (which presents its own problems to those of us who rely on lip reading!)

But today the air quality is so bad that government has announced that all schools in Bangkok are to close until Monday. Yippee! 2 surprise days off. Having said that Jayne is here and had her illustrating gig at Patana cancelled which was a huge shame. The kids were delighted with the news though as you can imagine. There was much jumping and joyful shouts when the announcement was made.

I read that the government is now planning a series of measures e.g odd/even days which means that you can only drive your car if your reg ends in an odd or even number on alternate days.

Single passengers in cars or taxis to be prohibited and cars and buses to have exhaust filters fitted (which should have happened ages ago IMO)

You can see the quality of the local buses here!

but this suggestion below really takes the biscuit..,

I heard later that fortunately the treacle suggestion has been abandoned. (it was something of an Alice in Wonderland solution!) Someone on Twitter also asked if they were also going to drop feathers…

The pollution is so thick that you can taste it when you go outside. So now we consider whether to buy a portable air purifier although I suspect that they are in short supply right now.

But really the question should be, why is this only a problem when we can see/feel it? Surely the same amount of gunk is being produced on a daily basis but we just don’t normally pay any attention! We are poisoning ourselves. And our future.

I can only hope that the children affected will remember this and have the courage to stand up and stop it.