Toxic smog forces hundreds of school closures in Bangkok

A heavy smog in Thailand’s capital city has forced hundreds of school closures in an attempt to keep children away from toxic air pollution.

Bangkok’s levels of air pollution are currently at some of its worst ever, as a result of dust, car exhaust, construction, burning of crops and emission from factories, according to the BBC. Weather patterns have also swept the spring fog in early to Bangkok, and its residents are protecting themselves by wearing face masks any time they go outside.

Government officials say they handed out more than 10,000 masks protect residents from inhaling the particles, which, apart from irritating the eyes and throat, can have long term effects on lung health, especially for children. As more than 400 schools shut their doors in the capital city this week, the governor is calling on critics to brainstorm new ideas to improve the air quality.

Attempts to break up the thick haze are currently underway, as a fleet of drones, trucks and small planes spray water around Bangkok to help settle the dust.

“I admit these are temporary solutions but we have to do it. Other long term measures will also be implemented,” Police Gen. Aswin Kwanmuang told a meeting of army, police, pollution control and other officials on Monday.

The city is also limiting the number of large trucks that can use city streets, as diesel exhaust is responsible for about half of the particulate matter in the air that can dangerously clog lungs.

To dissipate the pollution, the city needs rain. The Department of Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation plans to deploy two planes before the end of the week for cloud seeding, a process that plants crystals in clouds to encourage precipitation.

Without a major change, the current pollution levels could last up to three months, officials say. Long term solutions are being considered, such as the more widespread use of electric vehicles and better quality gasoline.

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