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Bangkok Governor given strong powers as pollution spreads

Bangkok Governor given strong powers as pollution spreads

With air pollution worsening in the capital and affecting more areas on Friday, residents are waiting to see what action Bangkok Governor Pol Gen Aswin Kwanmuang will take next.

The city’s Pollution Control Committee on Thursday authorised Aswin to declare the capital a “nuisance problem control area” under the Public Health Act and take more drastic action if the levels of PM2.5 – airborne particulates 2.5 microns or less in diameter – exceeded 75-100 micrograms per cubic metre of air.

Pollution Control Department (PCD) director-general Pralong Damrongthai told reporters about the decision after the committee meeting.

He said all agencies involved, including the Meteorological Department and the Departments of Land Transport and Royal Rainmaking and Agricultural Aviation, were asked to promptly submit action plans to Aswin if PM2.5 topped 75 micrograms.

Pointing out that the PM2.5 level was not unsafe in all 50 districts of Bangkok, Pralong said it was appropriate to declare a nuisance problem control area so that the governor could use his discretion in shutting down pollution sources and call on other districts for help.

If PM2.5 tops 100 micrograms, an emergency meeting of the National Environment Board would be convened to devise measures to present to the Prime Minister, Pralong said.

Pralong said the committee also decided to summon experts to discuss lowering the PM2.5 safe limit from 50 to 25 micrograms per cubic metre, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

In its daily update, the PCD said 24 areas of Greater Bangkok had PM2.5 above the 50-microgram threshold on Friday morning, when there was little wind.

Sixteen of those places were along major roads.

It said the situation could improve in the afternoon with stronger winds predicted.

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